Who's In It: Matthew Broderick, Sanaa Lathan, Michael K. Williams, Jodelle Ferland, Ally Walker
The Basics: An embittered, world-weary, recently fired, misanthropic stoner (Broderick) finds spiritual and sexual redemption thanks to his Senegalese roommate and the guy's foxy sister. They're simple, poor people with lots of sayings about thoughts being "magic" and Broderick's a doom-filled Westerner, so he's susceptible to their African wisdom. Together, the brother (conveniently in a diabetic coma for most of the movie) and the green-card-needing sister help Whitey Get his Groove Back. And it would all feel less real and decent than it does if it weren't for the fact that most middle-aged white folks are kind of pains in the ass who could use just about any kind of help they can get in learning how to be better at life.
What's The Deal: There's no logical defense for this movie. On paper it reads like a cheaper and equally annoying version of every NPR listener's most recent favorite film, The Visitor. And that's pretty much what it is. But, like Linus in his pumpkin patch, it's so doggedly sincere, so eager to please and to be loved, features so much barely deserved tenderness from very-cool actors Sanaa Lathan and The Wire's Michael K. Williams (as the siblings from Dakar) as well as perfectly poisoned comic misery from Matthew Broderick, that you forgive the fact that you've seen it all before. It's mediocre mush you won't be able to hate.
Points For: Appropriate set design. Broderick and his roommate Williams live in a featureless studio apartment that looks as crappy as it should. Too often, even with small-budget movies like this one, the temptation to attractive-up the surroundings leads to even more disconnect. And since the movie is about 50% set in the dumpy home, it's a good thing they got it mostly right.
Where Else You Can See Sanaa Lathan, And You Should: The 2006 romantic comedy nobody bought a ticket for--even after Oprah told them to--called Something New. She falls in love with a Caucasian in that movie, too, but it's Simon Baker and she's his boss, so it's less awkward than the mail-order-bride feeling of what's going on here.
Plot Question That Nagged At Me After I Left: There's a subplot about Broderick suing the city for negligence in his roommate's diabetic coma (long story), a lawsuit you know is doomed to fail. Meanwhile, his own job wrongfully fires him for being late to work when he has to help his roommate get to the ER, a case he'd have a much better chance of winning. It seems like an idea that got discarded in the writing process, lest there be too wonderful world of an ending.