[box cover]

The Brothers

Like its four heroes, The Brothers looks good, knows just what to say, and mostly means well — but still has its faults. It's a pleasant enough dramedy with some genuine laughs and insights into relationships, but in the end it doesn't really rise above the pigeonholes its characters fit into so neatly. Advertised as a story about "love, happiness, and all that other shit," the movie focuses on a quartet of friends who meet every week to play basketball and talk about women. There's Jackson (Morris Chestnut), a handsome doctor whose subconscious equates commitment with being shot; Brian (Bill Bellamy), a suave, cynical lawyer whose attitude toward the ladies verges on misogynistic; Derrick (D.L. Hughley), a wisecracking guy frustrated by his wife's reluctance to do "everything" in bed; and Terry (Shemar Moore), a gorgeous lothario who thinks he's finally ready to settle down. When Terry actually follows through on his resolution and gets engaged, it's a catalyst to get the others thinking about where they really stand on love and commitment. So when Jackson meets feisty photographer Denise (Gabrielle Union, in one of the film's better performances), he does his best to silence his inner voices and let love rule — only to be thrown for a loop when he discovers something shocking about her past. Writer/director Gary Hardwick is ambitious with this, his first film. Not only does The Brothers tackle the battle of the sexes (the bit at the bridal shower where the female characters get a chance to explain themselves is one of the funnier scenes in the movie), but he also explores father-son relationships as Jackson tries to get over the fact that his father (Clifton Powell) has left his mother (Jennifer Lewis) after 25 years of marriage. Ultimately, though, the film doesn't go far enough beyond the conventions of the other movies — like Waiting to Exhale and The Best Man — that it's been compared to. Too many of the characters are one-note caricatures (particularly Bellamy's Bill), and the glib one-liners, while funny, are just what viewers have come to expect from this kind of film. But the guys (and their movie) do look and sound great on DVD. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is as well-defined as Moore's abs, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 does Chestnut's bedroom voice proud. Other sound options include Dolby Surround and French dubbing, plus English and French subtitles. The disc also offers a healthy list of extras: "The Brothers: A Conversation with Gary Hardwick" (a 22-minute interview interspersed with clips from the movie), a full-length director's commentary, a video for Eric Benet's "Love Don't Love Me," four deleted scenes trimmed for time, trailers for The Brothers and other Columbia TriStar DVDs, and filmographies. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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