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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Brothers (2001)

"Look, Al Green, love, and happiness is one thing, but this is marriage."
- Brian (Bill Bellamy)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: July 31, 2001

Stars: Morris Chestnut, D.L. Hughley, Bill Bellamy, Shemar Moore, Gabrielle Union
Other Stars: Susan Dalian, Tamala Jones, Jennifer Lewis, Clifton Powell, Tatyana Ali
Director: Gary Hardwick

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content and language
Run Time: 01h:42m:10s
Release Date: July 31, 2001
UPC: 043396063945
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-B+B- B

DVD Review

Terry, Jackson, Derrick, and Brian have grown up together and known each other since they were young boys. Once each week, they meet to play hoops and discuss their exploits with members of the opposite sex. Afterwards, they swing over to the local night spot and try to pick up women that strike their eye. All four men are affluent African-Americans and consider themselves the "cream of the crop." Yet they continue to struggle with their relationships and have learned little about dealing with the ladies. When Terry (Shemar Moore)ˇa major playerˇdecides to get married, it sends a shock wave through their usual routine and makes them all question the current direction of their lives.

The Brothers tells the story of four extremely different men who share a tight friendship. Yet sometimes it appears that this bond exists more to serve the plot than to reveal an actual caring for each other. This is especially evident with Brian (Bill Bellamy)ˇa selfish, chauvinistic lawyer who constantly badgers his friends about the path of their lives. The script tries to explain his flaws, but it cannot overcome the pure lack of interest generated by this character. While it's played for comedy, much of his time onscreen is tedious and distracts from his more interesting counterparts. Another problematic character is Derrick (D.L. Hughley)ˇa married teacher who raises a young girl with his wife Sheila (Tamala West). Unfortunately, their marriage is falling apart because she won't fulfill all of his needs in the bedroom. Hughley (The Original Kings of Comedy) has an excellent screen presence and does have some entertaining moments, but this story line also becomes tiresome fairly quickly.

Luckily, this story really thrives when it covers the intriguing relationship between Jackson (Morris Chestnut) and Denise (Gabrielle Union). With each successive role, Chestnut (Boyz 'N the Hood, The Best Man) continues to secure his place as one of the rising young talents in films today. His character is the centerpiece of this movie, and Chestnut's strong presence keeps his scenes touching and interesting. While nearing 30, Jackson is struggling with his inability to secure a meaningful relationship. Meeting Denise strikes him like a thunderbolt, and before he knows it, Jackson has fallen madly in love with her. Unfortunately, skeletons from her past threaten to destroy this promising relationship. Gabrielle Union starred in Bring it On, and now has taken a mature role that allows her to convey a wide range of emotions. Beneath her stunning looks is an intelligent woman who understands the difficulties of love but is willing to try anyway. The depth in their relationship raises this film above the standard bargain-bin fare and allows for some poignant moments.

While this story begins with Terry's engagement to Be Be (Susan Dalian), he actually disappears for much of it and takes a back seat to Jackson's difficulties. Moore (Hav Plenty) is a veteran of the soap opera The Young and the Restless, and he brings a considerable amount of emotion into his key scenes. However, his dilemma still falls short of reaching the interest of Jackson and Denise. One reason for this shortcoming is the one-dimensional nature of Be Be, who hardly registers a blip until late in the film.

The other surprisingly adult relationship presented comes from an entirely different generation. Jackson's parents divorced after 25 years of marriage, yet they still maintain an odd, amicable "arrangement" that irritates their son to no end. Once again, his arguments with both parents almost exist on another strata in terms of depth and emotion. Both Clifton Powell and Jenifer Lewis create compelling three-dimensional individuals who exude a wide array of feelings. Also, their final outcome is surprising and differs significantly from the expected ending.

The Brothers is Gary Hardwick's first feature film as a director and second one as a writer. (He also penned the 1999 comedy Trippin'.) His writing covers a broad spectrum and ranges from touching mature material to comedy of the simplest form. While it never hurts to inject some humor into a dramatic film, this inclusion works best when it stems from interesting, realistic characters. Unfortunately, much of the material (especially Bellamy's) distracts from the overall picture and halts the momentum created by the previous scenes. Hardwick's attempt to present a variety of characters is noteworthy, but his scope often grows too large for the nature of this movie. While it contains some compelling moments, this story sputters at times, which leads to an often-enjoyable, yet uneven final product.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The Brothers includes a solid 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that presents the events on screen without any major problems. All the colors appear in the proper hue, and the brightness levels remain stable throughout the story. Within Jackson's dream sequences, the hazy images come across well and provide an impressive amount of clarity. A slight tinge of grain does show up occasionally, but the negative effects are pretty minor. Although it lacks the pristine focus of the best discs, this transfer is well-done and ranks as above-average in terms of picture quality.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrenchyes
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital audio transfer on this disc suffers from a lack of balance and often extremely quiet dialogue. At certain points, I had to turn up the volume to high levels and then quickly lessen the sound when the music kicked in. When the track hits the correct volume, it provides decent depth and a clear experience. The surrounds are especially evident during the gun shots scene, when the bullets careen across each corner of the sound field. Even though this transfer possesses nice quality, its poor balance hinders the viewing and becomes annoying. Surprisingly, the 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track sometimes works better than its digital counterpart. Although it lacks the depth, certain scenes actually have more force on this track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Broken Hearts Club, The Wedding Planner, My Best Friend's Wedding, Trois, and John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars
4 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Writer/Director Gary Hardwick
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Music video for Love Don't Love Me" by Eric Benet
Extras Review: The bonus features on this disc spotlight writer/director Gary Hardwick, who takes the helm for the first time with this film. A 22-minute interview contains plenty of nice insights into his thoughts when creating the story. Mixed with scenes from the movie, this featurette provides a good companion. Much of the material focuses on the difficult task of casting this ensemble picture. Hardwick covers the background and speaks about each member of the talented cast. This extra works much better than the usual promotional fluff piece. Instead of wasting time with silly narration, it allows the viewer to really develop a grasp for the intentions of its creator.

The other major supplement is a feature-length commentary with Hardwick, who has a nice, straightforward manner of speaking. It's unfortunate that much of his words end up being plot summary that adds virtually nothing to the film. Hardwick does inject some interesting background here and there, but most of the track isn't too exciting. In terms of learning information about the movie in less time, the interview featurette is a superior choice.

The four deleted scenes add only a few minor items and improve little to the original story. They run for about seven minutes and were cut because of time constraints. The longest scene has Jackson discovering that he's in love with Denise while talking with Terry. It's a nice moment, but is probably unnecessary because of other events left in the movie. The option of hearing commentary from Hardwick over the scenes is also available.

This disc contains a score of trailers from mostly similar films from the romantic drama genre. The exception is a widescreen preview for John Carpenter's Ghosts From Marsˇa typical Carpenter-like B movie that hasn't even come out in the theaters. Decent widescreen transfers also exist on trailers for The Wedding Planner and My Best Friend's Wedding. Full-screen previews are included for (The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy and Troisˇan eerie story about obsession. Of course, there's also the trailer for The Brothers, which showcases a nice widescreen picture.

Finally, there's a dull music video for Eric Benet's Love Don't Love Me jam and brief selected filmographies for the main stars and director. This section is frustrating because it avoids all of the female actors. Although the focus of the story is on the four men, it would have been helpful to have entries for Gabrielle Union and Jenifer Lewis at the very least.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Arriving on the heels of Malcolm Lee's The Best Man, The Brothers tells a similar tale of young men trying to understand women on a mature level. While this story differs considerably in terms of tone and style, it's comparable because it falls short in certain areas where the other excels. In Lee's film, nearly all the characters remained interesting and existed as realistic individuals. While that's true for some people in this one, others don't pass this test. Still, first-time director Gary Hardwick's creation is worth viewing if only for the excellent performances from Morris Chestnut and Gabrielle Union.

 


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