Producers T. D. Jakes and Tracey E. Edmonds invite you to the marriage of Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton, Precious ) and Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso, Fast & Furious), who just might be the perfect couple. Unfortunately, their families are a perfect recipe for disaster. Mrs. Watson (Angela Bassett) has an upper-crust sensibility that matches her family’s Martha’s Vineyard estate, where Jason’s straight-out-of-Brooklyn mom (Loretta Devine) seems utterly out of place. When the families gather for Jason and Sabrina’s wedding, it becomes clear that each side has its traditions… and its secrets. When uptown meets downtown, the truth comes out – and only one question remains. Will this couple endure the hysterical and harrowing trials of love and finally jump the broom?
It's significant that Jumping the Broom and Tyler Perry's African-American family romp Madea's Big Happy Family came to occupy entertainment and cultural space at the same time. They're both addressed to similar themes of class and some specific matters of comic or deeply serious family dysfunction through an underlying core of spiritual messaging. Jumping the Broom manages a more polished and broadly entertaining view as it follows the princess-and-commoner wedding weekend of Jason and Sabrina on her wealthy family's fantastical Martha's Vineyard estate. Jason comes from blue-collar Brooklyn, but has made it big on Wall Street and is a perfect catch as far as Sabrina is concerned, particularly since she's made a vow to God to stop giving away her “cookies” after a series of demoralizing hook-ups. After just five months Jason and Sabrina become engaged, and rushed arrangements supervised by Sabrina's imperious mom (a steely Angela Bassett) are being made on the Vineyard. Jason's working-class family crew is wrangled by his mom (Loretta Devine, who also plays a mom in the Madea movie), a hot-tempered matriarch who won't ‘llow no foolishness from anybody, especially her son and his snooty in-laws-to-be. There's so much raucous head-butting activity and interaction among all the friends, cousins, uncles, sisters, spouses, chefs, maids, wedding planners, and guests that the movie almost loses its way. Everyone has a back story and business that involve everything from romantic encounters and family dynamics to ethnic stereotypes and profound, secret shames. Fortunately all the elements come around and the busy bickering recedes into resolution as the wedding comes off with plenty of spiritual uplift. The very large cast (all those crazy stories!) is also very good in fulfilling roles that are distinctive and well drawn. In addition to Bassett and Devine, Mike Epps, Tasha Smith, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Gary Dourdan, Romeo, and Julie Bowen as the clueless white planner create an ensemble that deftly entertains against some classy backdrops and lots of laughs. Mega-church pastor and popular self-help author T.D. Jakes is one of the movie's producers, and he has a small but effective role that serves to define the spiritual and moralistic backbone of the movie. Like Tyler Perry's message, it's nothing but traditionalism and common sense, and in Jumping the Broom it's no impediment to the overall charm. –Ted Fry