Something New

Focus Features
Directed by Sanaa Hamri
3 stars


Love and laughs have hit the screen in “Something New”—but creativity has not.

Workaholic Kenya (Sanaa Lathan “Love and Basketball”) is the star of the corporate finance world and the darling of wealthy black society. And then she falls in love with her gardener, Brian. And he’s white. Unfortunately, Kenya’s family, friends, and even Kenya herself struggle with Brian’s race and economic status. The rest of the movie follows the familiar plotline of “Kenya must follow her heart.”

The film is a little reminiscent of “Pretty Woman”—only instead of Julia Roberts teaching Richard Gere how to live a little, “Something New” has a gardener teaching a businesswoman how to live a little. The film is a little reminiscent of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where a white man struggles for acceptance by the ethnic woman’s family. In fact, “Something New” is reminiscent of a lot of other movies.

It seems as if director Sanaa Hamri has just slapped new characters and a new background into the generic formula for romantic comedy. Not to say that the formula doesn’t work. “Something New” is definitely enjoyable. While perhaps it does not boast the most creative of plots, it emanates a happy tingle that makes up for a good deal of its deficiencies in originality.

The lighting and setting are tweaked to enhance the romance. Whenever Kenya and Brian are dishing up some puppy love, they seem to glow—whether they are cuddling in the gorgeous garden that Brian makes for Kenya or hiking together through a sun-streaked forest.

While it may be Hamri’s first crack at directing movies, Lathan is a well-known veteran in the African American cinema market. She has come a long way since she played the gauche tomboy in “Love and Basketball.” As a basketball star, she was young, vigorous, rough-and-ready. As Kenya the corporate guru, she is mature, graceful, and sophisticated. And in both parts she allows her character’s hidden sensitivity to subtly, but clearly, shine through.

Overall, “Something New” is the perfect date movie. For those looking for eye candy, good acting, and a couple laughs, this film is the right choice. But for those looking for originality and mind-blowing cinematic genius don’t expect the quality of Focus Features’s recent hits such as “Pride and Prejudice” and “Brokeback Mountain”. Hamri has simply combined bits and pieces of other romantic comedies, implanted different actors, and ironically, presented it as “Something New.”

--Crimson Staff Writer April B. Wang can be reached at abwang@fas.harvard.edu.