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Brown Sugar (2002) – DVD Review

Brown Sugar DVD cover


Written by: Michael Elliott
Directed by: Rick Famuyiwa
Starring: Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Mos Def, Queen Latifah, and Nicole Ari Parker


  • Running audio commentary by director Famuyiwa and editor Dirk Westervelt
  • Trailer
  • Deleted scenes with optional commentary
  • Music videos
  • Full-screen and anamorphic format

Released by: Fox
Region: 1
Rating: PG-13
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Pass

[ad#longpost]Dre (Diggs) is a producer at a record company. Sidney (Lathan) is an editor at a very influential music magazine. They are part of the inner circle, people with their fingers on the pulse of the world of hip-hop music. They are also both involved with people that are less than ideal for them. Aside from relationship difficulties, they’re both growing increasingly disillusioned with the narrow, often ridiculous world of commercial hip-hop music, particularly since they can remember what “real” hip-hop sounded like back in the day. Naturally these two are on a collision course for a hook-up.

Many insist that Brown Sugar was perhaps unrecognized genius when it was released, insisting that the subtle parallels and symbolic connection that ties the rise of Dre and Sidney’s relationship with the return of hip-hop to its origins. These critics want you to believe that this was somehow an intended “deeper meaning” to the film. I’m here to tell you, friends and faithful readers, that such claims are absolute bollocks. This is the same tired, formulaic love story that’s been played out thousands of times in movies already, substituting Taye Diggs as a more hip Tom Hanks, and Lathan as a sexier Meg Ryan. Nothing to it, just another iteration of When Dre Met Sally Sleepless With Her Mail in Seattle (oh, but there’s rap music). Cue a feel-good rap tune, fade out, roll the credits. Open and shut case.

The movie many people claim that this is would be a really interesting movie. This isn’t. The performances are decent (though Queen Latifah steals every scene she’s in from the less confident Lathan), but nothing stands out. The script is predictable, and every plot point is evident from two scenes away. The music, tragically, isn’t even that good. I mean, it’s nice to see Eric B. & Rakim getting work again, but they, like most of the tracks, sound like either dated artists or dated songs being desperately updated by new artists devoid of any of their own ideas. Tragic.

The transfer is clean, as is to be expected of anything this recent. The features are limited, but decent. The commentary track with Famuyiwa is middle-of-the-road for such inclusions, though it is fairly clear in hearing the man talk that the problems weren’t entirely on his shoulders. The script seems to be the real culprit here. The deleted scenes don’t really stand out as less impactful than anything that actually made it to the screen, though the commentary attempts to justify the selection process. (I suspect deep down that it was a simple matter of wanting to bring the film in safely under two hours, but no confirmation was available.)

Taye Diggs from Brown Sugar

I can’t really imagine anybody wanting to have this one permanently in the collection, but it might merit a rental from those that can’t get enough formula romantic comedies. If, like myself, you’d like to throttle the originator of said formula every time another one of these predictable pieces of crap hit the screens, then keep your distance…I won’t have it on my conscience, at least.

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