Not Easily Broken
by Phil Boatwright

Based on a book by T.D. Jakes, will be released on DVD through TriStar this April 7th

Rated PG-13, the 99-minute drama stars Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, Jenifer Lewis, Cannon Jay, Eddie Cibrian, Kevin Hart, is written by Brian Bird and directed by Bill Duke.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A long-time married couple is going through changes. He’s an unsatisfied head of a construction firm, while she is becoming the darling of the real estate set. Life’s struggles disrupt their union even further when she is injured in a car crash and a kind therapist catches the husband’s eye.

PREVIEW REVIEW: The black version of Fireproof, Not Easily Broken’s message has to do with the sanctity of marriage. Come to think of it, there are several positive messages in the film, including loyalty in marriage, the need to keep God centered in the marriage, the need to be vigilant concerning negative forces upon a marriage, and doing what’s right. Alas, for me, the honeymoon is over. Sadly, along with the positive messages and sound performances from Morris and Henson, the uneven direction and heavy-handed theatrics keep the film from truly touching us emotionally. As with the productions of Tyler Perry, the end result is closer to corny melodrama than thought-provoking cinema. And Kevin Hart as comic relief, though funny, seems to be not just in a different movie, but a different genre. Rather than tension building, we get these overwrought dramatics separated by Chris Rock-type hysteria. The comedy used here doesn’t alleviate tension, it simply interrupts the film’s direction.

That said, many viewers at the screening seemed to enjoy the antics. Mostly the accepting members of the audience were Black. I’ve noticed that Black audiences tend to be supportive of a film featuring an almost Black cast no matter the film’s quality. That’s not to be perceived as a putdown, but rather as a statement of fact. I can understand their acceptance. Finally, we are living in a time when Black stories are told and where a white character is the token. Unfortunately, Black filmmakers are now given the right to make as many bad movies as Whites.
Of course, I have some guilt saying anything negative about this film, because while I think the dialogue and story structure could have been more effective, there is a reverence for God, and the film is saying we need Him in our lives. Don’t hear that much in films today. There are positive role models as we see men trying to help kids become all they can be. And forgiveness and understanding are stressed. Only a meanie could put down a film containing such important messages.

I’d like to offer up a DVD alternative: Sounder. Award-winning performances from Paul Winfield and Cicely Tyson highlight this stirring story of a black sharecropper’s family battling injustice and poverty. Though a completely different setting and economic situation, the struggle is more believable and the performances are, well, more sound. Truly a marvelous movie. PG-13 (there are several conversations between the menfolk concerning sexual matters; though these dialogues avoid vulgarity, they often seem unnecessary; there are several expletives (damns, hells, asses), but I caught no harsh language; one misuse of Jesus’ name; the car crash is jolting; a boy dies in a swimming accident; some blood during the accident, but nothing overly graphic; there are a couple of sexual situations between man and wife, but nothing graphic; a man is tempted to have an affair, but his understanding of how such an act can damage his marriage prevents him from the act; some social drinking; the men are seen in a bar and they often drink beer; positive messages about the sanctity of marriage). Intended Audience: Teens and above. The DVD features both English and French subtitles and contains a Making-Of special and deleted scenes.