The title is deceptive; there's nothing new in Something New. In fact, it's a pretty standard Waiting to Exhale-ish dramedy. Still, the sweet and engaging chemistry between the two leads manages to draw you in.
The film centers on yet another over-achieving career woman, Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan), who is beautiful, stylish and successful but can't find the right man to save her life. You know the type. She would have given up by now if it weren't for her three close girlfriends (Wendy Raquel Robinson, Taraji P. Henson, Golden Brooks), who exact a fair amount of peer pressure to keep her in the game. Kenya finally agrees to go on a blind date with Brian Kelly (Simon Baker), a sexy landscape architect who turns out to be not exactly what she'd pictured for herself. You know, because she's an uptight black woman and he's a free-spirited white man. And there's our conflict. Should Kenya stay the straight and narrow path or follow her heart--no matter where it takes her? That's a rhetorical question, of course.
Lathan has had a nice, steady career making likable urban romantic comedies (Love and Basketball, Brown Sugar), so she fits easily into Something New's milieu. As Kenya, the actress is effectively professional and whip-smart at work but also does a nice job playing up the character's insecurities in her personal life. By being so very high maintenance, one wonders why the almost-too-good-to-be-true Brian would even fall for her. But that's what Something New has going for it--Baker (The Ring Two) and Lathan make their connection seem palpable and genuine. The movie really steams up when these two are on screen together. As for the rest, they add flavor wherever necessary, especially Donald Faison (TV's Scrubs) as Kenya's womanizing brother and Alfre Woodard, who does a surprising turn as Kenya's materialistic, snobbish mother.
Written, directed and produced by women of color, Something New wants to make a statement about the pressures professional women--in this case, black women--have trying to find love and commitment in their lives. Successful producer Stephanie Allain (Hustle & Flow) and screenwriter Kriss Turner were both inspired by an article they read in the Detroit Free Press about how 42.4 percent of black women have never been married, which then lead them to the idea that if you're in your 30s and single, are you going to open things up and look outside your race? This delicate subject matter in Something New's is skillfully handled by first-time director Sanaa Hamri, who adequately shows the fine line. But despite its sweet temperament, the film ultimately lapses into ordinary and predictable rom-com fare. After all, you got to have the Hollywood ending, right?
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.