Brown Sugar review

Catherine Zeta-Jones may have nabbed the Oscar, but many people reckoned it was Queen Latifah with her splendid voice who made Chicago. And while you won't see quite as much of her in Brown Sugar, Latifah's ebullient supporting turn is just one of numerous pleasures awaiting punters who decide to give this amiable all-black romance a whirl.

Taye Diggs showed up in Chicago, too - he was the bandleader - but he gets the chance to sink his teeth into a meatier role here. He plays Dre, a New York music exec who shares his passion for hip-hop with childhood friend Sidney (Sanaa Lathan). Dre and Sid have always been close, but never that close. Until he gets hitched, that is, when Sidney suddenly realises they belong together...

Part My Best Friend's Wedding, part Jerry Maguire, the story unfolds as Dre quits his job to start a back-to-basics label based around rapping cabbie Chris (Mos Def). With this kind of mix, there's a danger this Sugar could be too sweet for some. Thankfully though, director Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood) peppers his formulaic yarn with some witty digs at the record industry and its cynical appropriation of African-American culture. This comes in the shape of `Ren&Ten', a pair of black-and-white rappers whose hilarious hip-hop version of `The Girl Is Mine' (here rechristened `The Ho Is Mine') is the kind of thing likely to have Macca and Jacko straight on the phone to their lawyers.

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