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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Brown Sugar
Brown Sugar
Fox // PG-13 // February 11, 2003
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted February 6, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:


Although it doesn't offer much in the way of fresh ideas for the romantic comedy genre, "Brown Sugar" more than gets by on its charm and its two superb lead performances. The film takes place in the world of hip-hop music, but I was pleased to see how the film approached the music. It doesn't see it as controversial or anything like that, but in this case, the film appreciates the creativity and skills of its artists and uses it as a way to unite two characters who share a love for the music.

The film focuses on music producer Dre (Taye Diggs) and magazine editor Sidney (Sanaa Lathan), two young professionals who have known each other since childhood, where their shared love of hip-hop made them friends. As their life continues, they still find themselves united in a way, as he makes the records and she winds up reviewing them. She finds out that he's going to get married to Reese (Nicole Ari Parker) and although she can't believe that he's going to actually get married, she can't manage to tell him how she really feels.

On the other side, Reese has a feeling that there are still feelings between Dre and Sidney, although she still wants to make the marriage work. As Dre considers his own feelings, Sidney finds herself involved with a basketball player (Boris Kodjoe). Obviously, Sidney and Dre are going to get together in the end, but this is one of those rare romantic comedies where the journey from point A to the obvious point B is generally very enjoyable.

Stars Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan have been co-stars in other pictures before and have terrific chemistry with one another, which certainly helps. It also helps that both are superb actors, able to play comedy and drama with equal skill. They're also believable long-time friends. Queen Latifah ("Chicago") also is fun as Sidney's friend. I liked spending time with these characters; they're intelligent, generally good-hearted and feel like real people.

I've never been a fan of the romantic comedy genre, as most of the recent entries in the genre have been all the same. This film goes over much of the same ground, but it's smart, funny, sweet and I liked how it looked at the importance of music in these people's lives - even those who are fans of another form of music besides hip-hop will likely understand how these characters feel. Another good, low-key film from director Rick Famuyiwa.


The DVD


VIDEO: "Brown Sugar" is presented by Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame on a dual-sided, single-layer disc. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is generally good, although I've seen better efforts from the studio. Sharpness and detail are standard, as the film's bright outdoor scenes appeared crisp and fairly well-defined, although night scenes could appear a bit lacking in detail and clarity.

Aside from the so-so detail in some of the night scenes, there weren't too many issues with the presentation. Edge enhancement shows up, but only in slight amounts, while a couple of trace instances of compression artifacts appeared in a scene or two. The print looked fine, with only a couple of little specks.

The film's color palette was generally well-rendered, as the film's warm color palette looked well-saturated and clean, with no smearing. Overall, this is a fairly nice transfer.


SOUND: "Brown Sugar" is presented by Fox in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is clearly another in a long line of "romantic comedy" soundtracks. The dialogue is the focus and, as a result, the film's audio is certainly front-heavy. The only instances where this changes is when the hip-hop music enters in; the surrounds do a nice job of reinforcing the music and the music itself has a nice amount of bass behind it. Dialogue remained clear and clean throughout.

EXTRAS: A commentary from editor Dirk Westervelt and director Rick Famuyiwa is included. There are some patches of silence throughout the track, but the two generally seem to be having a fun time remembering some of the highlights of the shoot. They do chat about the story and characters, but spend most of the track discussing production issues, locations and other issues with filming. A few stretches of silence here and there, but overall, a nice track.

Other than the commentary, deleted scenes are offered with optional commentary, plus the disc includes trailers for "Antwone Fisher" and "Brown Sugar", as well as a couple of music videos (from Erykah Badu and Mos Def) from the film.


Final Thoughts: While "Brown Sugar" keeps to the basics in terms of its romantic comedy plot, the film's energy, performances and the way it weaves music into the story made for a film that rises above the rest in the genre. Fox's DVD offers fine audio/video quality, along with a fair amount of supplements. Recommended.

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