RETRO-REVIEW: Why We STILL Love ‘LoveJones’ 20 Years Later

I take my status as a cinephile quite seriously (too seriously, I confess). And because I do, I do not expect to be challenged by mere mortals and casual movie goers when I make a definitive statement like the one below:

LoveJones is the best romantic comedy ever madePeriod.

LoveJones is often described as a “cult classic” but it is much more than that.  The quality of this film transcends race, time and space- although I would be remiss if I ignored the obvious cultural dynamics at work here.  Larenz Tate and Nia Long earned lifetime tenure amongst black folks for bringing this imminently relatable black couple to the big screen in wide release 20 years ago this week.  The chemistry between the leads set an impossible standard for other romantic comedies that would follow.  It just ain’t possible to be more believable than they were, whether they were hitting the right notes together or blowing up a great thing they stumbled across in a bar one night.

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I believe that one of the most enduring and endearing characteristics of this film was what it didn’t show the audience or even reference.  It is still almost a radical idea to have a film with an all black cast that skipped the following characters, themes or references: No drug use, drug references or drug dealers despite several party scenes; no fighting even when a punch in the mouth was in order (and Bill Bellamy’s Hollywood was begging for one); no violence or gunplay at all despite the undeniably urban setting; no pro basketball or football player characters; no rappers-turned actor in the cast or rapper characters in the story at all despite the fact that the microphone and the stage played a central role in the setting and narrative; no fantasy land cribs or cars (even though Nina’s housesitting spot was fresh as hell); no token white characters tossed in for contrived multi-culturalism or marketing purposes; and no clown-assed characters forced into the cast for corny comic relief (thank God Kevin Hart wasn’t around back then because he might have showed up and truly  wrecked the flow of this masterpiece).

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LoveJones kept it simple.  It told a story about real people who were complex, compelling and relatable.  The narrative was driven by the characters’ minds, hearts and their insights rather than the linear style of dialogue and minimalist plot development that we have been fed in the years since.  In a world awash in banality and materialism,  LoveJones reminded us of how searingly sexy intelligent conversation and natural chemistry can be.  The soundtrack and settings drew us in from the first frame and all this time later we still just can’t get enough of it.   Like love itself.

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An iconic work of art stands the test of time and this film most certainly has done that.  Even Prince made it a point to shout out this extraordinary film on his Musicology album- the only time in his 40 year career that he ever did such a thing.  On his playful blues ballad Don’t Make Me Sleep On The Couch, Prince croons to his woman she CAN’T be mad at him tonight because “LoveJones is on the TV again, baby” returning the favor of the good natured teasing he got in some early banter between Darius and Nina.  And on this blog, if it’s good enough for Prince, it’s good enough for everybody.  So twenty years later, I want to shout out Theodore Witcher and the whole crew for a film that is truly the gift that keeps on giving.  He literally dropped the mic.

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∞ Thanks 4 checking in 2day- Do your thing & I’ll see you 2morrow π  

 

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