Brown Sugar [2002]

One of 2002's most underrated films, Brown Sugar offers more than you'd expect from a conventional romantic comedy. The love story between Dre (Taye Diggs) and Sidney (Sanaa Lathan) is the least interesting part of the movie; the costars have delightful chemistry, but their hookup is a given. What's refreshing is the way the story draws a parallel between Dre and Sidney's longtime friendship (they meet as kids in a 1984 flashback) and the evolution of hip-hop music from urban roots to dubious mainstream acceptance. Dre's a disillusioned producer at pop-fueled Millennium Records, married to a beauty (Nicole Ari Parker) who cheats while embracing her coveted status quo. Editor of an influential music magazine, Sidney's tentatively engaged to a basketball star (Boris Kodjoe), but these loves are obstacles, and Dre and Sidney are meant for each other. In bringing them together, Brown Sugar allows for human mistakes, intelligent solutions, and the kind of three-dimensional behavior that romantic comedies typically don't provide. --Jeff Shannon

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