`Brothers' is worth a shot

March 23, 2001|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

A bunch of guys hanging out, shooting some hoops and just generally trying to figure out women.

That's what "The Brothers" is all about. And while a more determinedly miserable group of guys would be hard to imagine, there are enough moments that ring true sprinkled throughout this movie to command your attention, if not your imagination.

There's nothing here we haven't seen on screen a hundred times before. If one of these guys were actually happy, and made something of an effort to stay that way - now that would be a movie to cherish.

Instead, we get Jackson (Morris Chestnut), who's freaked out that his girlfriend once dated his dad; Brian (Bill Bellamy), who insists women aren't worth the trouble, possibly because he doesn't think he is, either; Derrick (D.L. Hughley), miserable because his loving wife won't make love to him the way he'd like; and Terry (Shemar Moore), who lectures his friends so vociferously about the importance of commitment that you just know he has issues.

Writer-director Gary Hard- wick's script hopscotches among the four, generally spending a few minutes on each, and allowing events to creep forward ever-so-slightly. The idea is to keep all four narrative balls in the air at once, so your interest in what goes on never wavers, but it doesn't work. Too often, these guys come off sounding like broken records; Derrick, for instance, whines so constantly to his wife about her lack of sexual adventurousness you wish he'd find satisfaction elsewhere and shut up.

The only relationship worth investing your own emotions in is between Jackson and Denise (the alluring Gabrielle Union); these two deserve each other, not only because they're both beautiful, but because they're both fundamentally decent. They're also the only two characters who never revert to the cartoonish.

You'll find yourself rooting for "The Brothers," which fancies itself a "Waiting to Exhale" for the male set. And the strong cast, backed by Hardwick's straight-ahead direction, almost pulls it off. But as each male-female relationship works itself out in ways either contrived or predictable, here's betting you wind up more disappointed than enlightened.

`The Brothers'

Starring Morris Chestnut, D.L. Hughley, Bill Bellamy, Shemar Moore

Written and directed by Gary Hardwick

Released by Screen Gems

Rated R (Strong sexual content, language)

Running time 106 minutes

Sun score **

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