Opposites Attract; 'Something New' Puts a Fresh Spin on Interracial Relationships

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Byline: MATT SOERGEL

She's an uptight, top-of-her-class corporate type about to make partner at her firm, with a new house she's painted all beige and a habit of wearing business suits on Saturdays, since she's going into the office anyway.

He's an understanding, patient hunk who has a cool old pickup truck and a yellow Lab and works in the dirt making flowers bloom. He even paints toenails (hers, not his).

Oh yeah: She, Kenya, is black. He, Brian, is white.

That fact is more than incidental in Something New. It's the centerpiece of the movie; Brian doesn't have much of a problem with it, but Kenya, who's waiting for her IBM (Ideal Black Man), does.

An interracial love story is an old topic, handled far more broadly in last year's Guess Who, itself a sort-of remake of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

But Something New shows there's life in it yet, as the film provides a thoughtful and agreeable twist to a movie that, in broad outline, doesn't stray far from romantic-comedy conventions. The movie has the old opposites-attract angle, the funny sidekicks, the meddling parent, the big sweet finish. It's pretty predictable.

But screenwriter Kriss Turner tackles some big issues without being preachy and offers some welcome droll humor too. Director Sanaa Hamri finds some fresh material in her L.A. settings and welcomes the glare of the harsh California sun -- the film looks pretty, but not slick. And there isn't much in the way of background music; Hamri wisely lets you decide how to feel, rather than hammering it home with wistful ballads or soaring pop songs.

The movie knows how to be quiet.

But the best thing going for it is the genuine chemistry of its likable stars. …