Those are words of war from snobby old-money Claudine Watson (Angela Bassett) to her future in-law, postal worker Pam Taylor (Loretta Devine), during an African-American wedding weekend gone awry in the film, “Jumping the Broom.”
Directed with a mixture of farce, ribald wit and dramatic intensity, Salim Akil’s “Jumping the Broom” is all about the class conflict that simmers in all social groups …in this case, Blacks. From a bristling Elizabeth-Arlene Gibbs script, Akil manages a tight, though expansive cast, giving each character purpose, identity, a lot of great oneliners and a few serious secrets.
The story starts with beautiful corporate lawyer Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) vowing to God abstinence until after her wedding to the man whom He sends her, which turns out to be handsome investment banker Jason Taylor. She meets him by accident, literally, her car almost running him over. But, Jason is a bit of a mama’s boy, and that mama happens to be Pam, who sharpens her claws, when her first encounter with Sabina is by text.
Pam brings an assortment of relatives, friends and hangers-on, Jason being an only child with a deceased father. Smoldering snobbery is exacerbated by Claudine and company’s continuing putdowns in French, which are subtitled in English for the benefit of the audience. Still, it offers the Taylor gang some riotous retorts, particularly from Pam’s brother-in-law, the irrepressible Willie Earl (Mike Epps). The slavery issue comes up when Pam insists on the marital couple “jumping the broom,” a plantation tradition implemented when marriage was forbidden among the non-free. Claudine’s aforementioned mean remark is a dagger that strikes deep into the heart of Pam and her people. It opens a wound that widens like the flooding Mississippi and unearths more ugliness, almost ending what-wouldhave been loving union.
Go see “Jumping the Broom,” and remember in America we’re all mongrels.