Review

Not Easily Broken Review

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Jan 09, 2009 | 9:39am EST

Dave Johnson’s (Morris Chestnut) dreams of playing in the major leagues have long been dashed and now he’s left to coach Little League and try to make a go of his modest construction firm. He’s a good guy but after more than a decade of marriage he’s is constantly harassed by his successful realtor/wife Clarice (Taraji P. Henson) and her obnoxious mother Mary (Jenifer Lewis). A tragic automobile accident brings things to a marital boiling point -- Clarice becomes housebound with severe leg injuries and Dave just might be attracted to the physical therapist Julie (Maeve Quinlan) a white single mother who has arrived to help out. Based on T.D. Jakes’ religious themed book Woman Thou Art Loosed this intense and old fashioned drama offers some meaty roles to some fine actors and they run with the opportunity -- particularly Chestnut who displays such warmth and likeability he seems almost too good to be true. Henson (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button Hustle and Flow) has had a few good screen outings of late but probably could have taken it down just a notch to make Clarice just a little more empathetic. You almost wonder how poor Dave has lasted so long with this woman. Ditto Lewis. On the other hand the warm and understanding Quinlan is the perfect counterpoint pointing out a real crisis of conscience for Dave. Welcome comic relief comes in the form of his buddies  Eddie Cibrian and particularly the highly amusing Kevin Hart. And watch for a restaurant-scene cameo by Jakes. Fortunately actor turned director Bill Duke knows how to rein in this tricky marital story and make its most important message -- tolerance and perseverance in relationships --somehow ring true. There may not be a whole lot of subtlety in this particular tale (or many of Jakes books in general) but it’s an agreeable and engrossing affair that’s worthy of attention from anyone involved in a long term relationship. And it’s certainly refreshing for once to see this kind of romantic drama played out almost entirely from the male point of view.

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