The Michigan Daily - -Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 9A
'Sugar' sweet and full of spice
Magic of 'Tuck' doesn't translate
By Tara Billik
For the Daily
Rick Famuyiwa's "Brown Sugar" kicks off with frenetic
rhythm as influential hip-hop figures such as De la Soul, Big
Daddy Kane and Russell Simmons respond to an interview
question, "When did you first fall in love with hip-hop?" Yet
what begins as a sequence of cameos resembling a documen-
tary soon shifts its energy to an overriding love story.
On one hand, "Brown Sugar" pursues the development
of hip-hop in pop culture. On the other, this commentary's
purpose is to trace the development of the film's characters
and their relationship. It all starts in 1984
when the two main characters, Dre (Taye
Diggs, "The Wood") and Sidney (Sanaa
Lathan, "The Wood"), reveal when they
"first fell in love with hip-hop." They are two BROWN
little kids on the Brooklyn streets, enchanted
with the spell of break dancing and freestyle At Show
rhymes. However, their innocence is destined Qual
to be lost, along with that of hip-hop as it Fox Se
unites with the mainstream.
The present setting finds an almost 30
year-old Sidney working as a successful hip-hop journalist.
In an equally high-class position, Dre works as a talent scout
for Millennium records. The two best friends reunite in New
York City where their passion for hip-hop first ignited. They
are repeatedly obliged to tell others that they are "just
friends" as they undoubtedly look like the perfect couple.
Even the sweet kisses Sid and Dre exchange on the night
before his wedding aren't enough to halt his exchange of
vows with his fiance, Reese (Nicole Ari Parker, "Boogie
Nights"). Meanwhile, a handsome basketball player, Kelby
(Boris Kodjoe, "Love and Basketball"), sweeps Sidney of
her feet. When Dre's job requires him to support an embar-
rassing excuse for a rap group (one white guy and one black
guy as The Dalmatian Duo), he finally reaches for his digni-
ty and decides to start his own label. Sid supports him
whole-heartedly and financially (unlike his own wife).
When Kelby proposes to Sidney, it's enough to let Dre know
that he can't let her go. The "friends" just have to admit it
'Birds' is a twis
isn't platonic anymore so the happily ever after ending can
fall into place.
This formulaic best-friends-falling-in-love narrative gets
stale rather quickly. The hip-hop parallel is an interesting
vehicle, yet subtlety would become it. As Dre's name
becomes heavy-handedly interchangeable with hip-hop,
Famuyiwa teeters dangerously over the edge of sentimental
mushiness. Yet the sweet romance is masterfully spiced up
with a hearty helping of humor. Queen Latifah has a minor
role as Sidney's friend, but large enough to deliver a lot of
laughs. Mos Def, as Dre's target client for his new label is
hilarious. His witty advice to Dre concerning the ending of
"Casablanca" has the whole audience laughing
out loud, not only the cinema savvy.
Diggs is sizzling as usual. He is always
dressed to impress, and flashing that gorgeous
SUGAR smile. His character evolves tremendously
from Millennium's paid off pawn to a penni-
case and less entrepreneur following his heart. Lathan's
ty 16 role is worthy of recognition. She spealks with
rchlight conviction, and proves that her alluring femi-
ninity is no restriction for being one of the
guys. She embodies Dre's definition of brown
By John Laughlin
Daily Arts Writer
The Tuck family, according to Jay Russell's ("My Dog
Skip") latest film, "Tuck Everlasting," guards the fountain of
youth. Based on Natalie Babbit's novel, the film takes place
toward the end of the Victorian era and centers on young
Winnie Foster (Alexis Biedel, "Gilmore Girls") whose
search for freedom in a world of restriction and refinement
that the Tuck's are not "really livin', but just are." The film
finally comes to a head when "The Man in Yellow" finally
tracks the Tucks and Winnie down and threatens to kill Win-
nie if the Tucks do not show him where the spring is.
"Tuck Everlasting" is a magical film that centers on a
rather unorthodox teen-love relationship. One begins to real-
ize that Jesse and Winnie ending up together is an impossi-
bility and one that involves decisions of the most
complicated in nature.
leads her to discover what only before existed
in her dreams.
Upon hearing her parents' intentions to
send her away to a finishing school, Winnie
takes off for the woods that surround her
home. She becomes lost, but stumbles upon a
young boy - Jesse (Jonathan Jackson,
"Insomnia") - drinking from a small pool of
water beneath a large tree. Jesse tries to get
Winnie to leave, but when his brother Miles
(Scott Bairstow, " White Fang 2") sees the two
of them, he snatches Winnie up onto his horse
and whisks her away to the Tuck family home.
At Showcase and
Walt Disney Pictures
The film boasts a fantastic ensemble cast
and all of the actors deliver first-rate perform-
ances. In this way the film does not suffer, but
it is strengthened. However, whether inten-
tionally slow to give the illusion of stopped
time or just a directorial error, the film does
not move swiftly and its explication seems to
take an unreasonable amount of time.
This Disney film is definitely aimed toward
a younger age bracket. While enjoyable to
some extent by alt the film lacks the sophisti-
cation, complication and necessary breadth
that older audiences require. Like a story-
sugar, "Fine. Smart. Classy without being a snob ... hella
sexy, but not a ho."
Also stirring up the drama is Famuyiwa's elegant visual
style. The creative interludes of split screens and freeze
frames linger on an image, contributing to the nostalgic tone.
These techniques are noticeable but never intrusive. Appropri-
ately, an accompanying soundtrack features music by Erykah
Badu, Mary J. Blige, Mos Def and more.
"Brown Sugar" is flawed by its reluctancy to go deeper.
Famuyiwa, too timidly, pokes around at sub-plots just yearn-
ing to explode. The piece cleverly touches on nuances of
socio-political themes and the destruction of hip-hop culture
into commodity. In a film so littered with themes about
"selling out," this is where Famuyiwa did his "selling out."
These sub-themes could have been explored to their full
potential and produced a more interesting and provocative
tone. What arises instead is a more typical romantic comedy
with universal appeal.
: on DC classic
The family is enigmatic and Winnie is unable to compre-
hend why they will not simply let her go home. Soon taken
in by the freedom these people have and the generosity they
exude, Winnie begins to lose track of time and grow quite at
home amongst the Tucks.
All the while, "The Man in the Yellow Suit" (Ben Kings-
ley, "Searching for Bobby Fischer") is tracking the Tucks in
search or their secret resource, the fountain of youth. The
Fosters are also searching endlessly for their missing daugh-
ter and come to suspect that "The Man in Yellow" has some-
thing to do with her mysterious disappearance.
Eventually, around a campfire, Jesse tells Winnie their
family secret and Miles is all too happy to offer a different
perspective on everlasting life. It is finally the boys' father
(William Hurt, "Dark City") who makes Winnie fully aware
book, a narrator leads the audience in and out of the tale, but
this adaptation (like most done for the screen) may leave
older audience members thinking, "That was it?"
Courtesy of Disney I
Jackson and Biedel re-enact a scene from 'Commando.' -
Change the World of Healthcare....Become a
By Jaya Soni
For the Daily
Take the inspiration of DC
Comics' Batman series
and mix in a "Buffy the "
attitude of teenage *
chivalry in modern day
America. The result is BIRDS
the WB's new teen Wednesda
drama, "Birds of Prey."
Much like WB's last
"Smallville," "Birds of Prey" takes a
DC Comics classic and adds a con-
temporary twist. In fact, the WB uses
the same tactics to entice its youthful
audience. As in "Smallville," "Birds
of Prey" stars a sexy and youthful
cast to portray the principles of
"Birds of Prey" is based on the
premise of a new generation, the
legacy to Batman. Who knew that
Batman and Catwoman had enough
animal instinct to consort and create
another meta-human? More surpris-
ingly, Catwoman refused to inform
Batman of their superhero accident
and began to raise their daughter
Helena (Ashley Scott, "Dark Angel")
alone. Seems like a scandalous situa-
tion for a duo of superheroes. Obvi-
ously, Bruce Wayne's devilish good
looks and immense bank account did-
n't appeal to the independent and
Unfortunately, as in any traditional
superhero scheme, evildoing inter-
feres. After a fierce battle against Bat-
man and his sidekicks, the Joker
barely escapes and manages to have
his henchman attack those that assist
Batman. Catwoman and Batgirl, a.k.a.
Barbara Gordon (Dina Meyer, "Star-
ship Troopers") are the prey of Joker's
retaliation. Barbara Gordon is left
paralyzed from the waist down and
Helena is left motherless. However,
the most astonishing result is that Bat-
man hangs up his black jock strap and
flees Gotham city for a "normal" life.
Left to defend the "New Gotham
City," Barbara Gordon raises Helena
and the two become a crime-fighting
duo known as Oracle and Huntress.
The episode commences seven
years later as a small town girl leaves
home to find the stars of her clairvoy-
ant dreams. As another meta-human
character, Dina (Rachel Skarsten) is
the only one that can see the past and
future through the perspective of peo-
ple she physically touches. As a child,
Dina awoke most nights confused and
scared. With her abilities, she per-
ceived the intense images of Joker's
attacks on Batgirl and Catwoman.
Dina finally meets the victims within
her dreams after being attacked in the
dark streets of NewGotham city and
saved by Huntress.
Dina follows Huntress home to find
the highly equipped secret lair (fund-
ed by Bruce Wayne's trust fund).
Huntress is uneager to have the new-
comer stay but allows for it as she
was once a child with no place to go,
just like Dina. The
remainder of the episode
includes the aid of Dina
* as she helps Oracle and
Huntress track down the
F PREY killer of three business
at 9 p.m. related mupders. The
plot thickens as the
B _ nemesis implicates evil
reliable Alfred Pennyworth and the
notorious Batman nemesis Dr. Harley
Quinn, a.k.a. Dr. Harleen Quinzel
(Mia Sara, "Ferris Bueller's Day
Off"). "Birds of Prey" has definite
potential if the program premise holds
true to your DC Comic beliefs. Dr.
Quinzel appears to play a reoccurring
role as Helena's therapist and both are
unaware of the other's dual identities.
Also notable and unforgettable is
Detective Reese (SheMar Moore,
"Young and the Restless"). His per-
sistent search for truth and justice
leads him into some unexplainable
situations with Huntress.
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