Jumping the broom refers to an old wedding tradition. It's akin to breaking glass or throwing rice. In this film, the pair of individuals planning on doing the jumping is two men. Shock and awe, they're two black men! But, before Noah and Wade, both aspiring screenwriters, can make the trip over the broom together, there are some issues that need to be worked out in a weekend getaway in Martha's Vineyard.
This election year, same-sex marriage was a definite issue, but this is the only film to hit mainstream theaters this year that actually revolves around a same-sex marriage. The issue of gay nuptials came up in the last Presidential election, but the campaign and aftermath following election-day have caused so much controversy that this time around it's worth noting.
The California vote that took away gay rights caused uproar in the streets. Facebook-organized protests broke out, which got quite a lot of media attention. The resulting courtroom battles will garner just as much spotlight, but an intellectual uproar was raised within the gay community that not enough was done to depict or portray gay marriage. Released two weeks prior to the election, this film certainly answered that.
Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom was produced and distributed by LOGO. It is in fact the first film done so by LOGO. What is LOGO? LOGO is a digital cable TV channel that is part of the MTV network. LOGO provides content, specifically targeted to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community.
This feature also marks the fifth film that I've seen this year in theaters that has been based on or was essentially a continuation of a TV show. It didn't by far have the same budget and level of distribution as Speed Racer, Sex and the City, Get Smart, or The X-Files, but of all of them, this one was probably the most satisfying.
What disturbed most fans of the short-lived TV series, Noah's Arc, which debuted in October 2005, was the fact that it was short-lived. The creator and executive producer of the show, Patrick Ian Polk, a man who I had the pleasure of meeting in Philadelphia, back in the summer of 2004, had a hit on his hands. Yet, after only two seasons and 17 episodes, LOGO discontinued the series, leaving the show on a cliffhanger, which only annoyed fans.
And, yes, the show had fans. Noah's Arc stood as LOGO's most popular program. No explanation as to why it was discontinued, but, perhaps it was done intentionally to build an audience for their first feature in theaters.
According to Box Office Mojo, that audience was there. The film opened on October 24 in only five theaters. It grossed over $150,000. That's an average of $30,000 per theater. To give context, the teenage blockbuster High School Musical 3, which opened the same day, had a theater average of only $11,600. The Angelina Jolie film Changeling, which also opened the same day, had a theater average of $32,000.
So, it seems that this small, gay film from LOGO was on par with some bigger-name films. It never got placed in more than nine theaters, so it would never eclipse those bigger-name films, but, as of December 10, this film has grossed over half a million dollars in the box office, making it the second, best-performing gay film of 2008, the first being Milk.
Initial critics described the TV show as very much like Sex and the City, only with all black gay men. I suppose symmetry then demanded that the film also be like Sex and the City: The Movie. While the two plots aren't exactly the same, the two main characters, in both films, plan a wedding and teeter back and forth on whether or not they're going to go through with it, but Jumping the Broom is so much funnier.
Writer-director Patrick Ian Polk plays with the ideas that are common in romantic comedies. Love triangles are a standard bearer in these kinds of movies, but when you have an all-gay male cast, the love lines can go either way, and Polk makes brilliant use of that. Anybody is likely to jump into bed with anybody, and Polk tests that theory, but if you are a fan of the TV show, then all of it will make sense, and, Polk surprisingly does make some very clever observations and analyses of those who tie the knot.
Unlike in Sex and the City: The Movie, which took the events of a year and compressed them into two and a half hours, this film takes the events of two days and compresses them into just under two hours. Yet, somehow, Polk gives his characters, all of them, more to do. He also successfully provides not only his main character a proper story arc, but also each of his characters gets a great arc in this great ensemble cast.
Five Stars out of Five
Rated R for sexual situations and language
Running Time: 1 hr. and 41 mins.