The ’90s was a decade that holds special prominence in my heart. Not just because of the now cliché points of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon nostalgia, but because more mature programming and media featured casts of talented black actors. Think Soul Food (the movie, that is), Waiting To Exhale, Boomerang and yes Friday. Even the first few years of the 2000’s brought classic films that told stories from an African-American perspective.
In some ways, that era may be coming back. Think Like A Man was a box office hit: it ended The Hunger Games box office run and more than made back it’s $12 million budget. It had a plot that was relatable to a wide audience – it just happens that it featured an ensemble black cast, which is exactly what I have wanted to see happen in Hollywood. For studios having an all-black cast, regardless of the plot, is risky to general audiences; it’s interpreted as a “black movie”. But movies like Think Like A Man and even Soul Food have plots relatable to everyone: romantic and family relationships respectively.
The risk may be paying off though. Think Like A Man 2 just wrapped shooting this week and on November 27th the holiday film Black Nativity will be in theaters. The movie is adapted from Langston Hughes’ play of the same name. The idea of a movie musical is a little eye roll-inducing for some one like me who can’t stand most musicals but the film brings together a talented group: Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Mary J. Blige and Nasir Jones. It’s another film that draws on a universal connection of family regardless of the cast and the setting.
More in the rom-com vein of Think Like A Man, September 27th’s Baggage Claim is much more up my alley. Paula Patton plays a flight attendant who, in effort to find a date for her sister’s wedding, goes back through her ex’s. Is the script particularly original? Not really. Some are quick to say it’s a black version for 2011’s What’s Your Number?. I wouldn’t be that harsh. Derek Luke, Taye Diggs, Jill Scott, Boris Kodjoe, Trey Songz, Tia Mowry, LaLa Anthony and Djimon Hounsou round out the cast. Baggage Claim looks like a fun movie that is universally relatable in terms of love and relationships.
You can watch the trailers for Black Nativity and Baggage Claim below: