Angela Bassett is a wealthy, ridiculously good-looking single mother who travels with her sass-talking best friend Whoopi Goldberg to a Jamaican resort, where she meets and falls in love with a brilliant, ridiculously good-looking Jamaican man (Taye Diggs) 20 years her junior. But when she returns home, she finds that society is none too accommodating of her new beau, and much finger-snapping and head-wriggling ensues. Based on a semi-autobiographical bestseller by Terry McMillan, How Stella Got Her Groove Back is a glossy, attractive, ultimately empty soap opera that—despite being based on a true story—never seems remotely plausible. Most of the film's problems stem from the fact that both Bassett and Diggs are stuck playing romance-novel archetypes—the strong and sensual older woman and the hunky, spiritual, wise young buck—rather than three-dimensional characters. Neither actor gives a bad performance, but neither can transcend the flimsiness of the characters' conception. The world both characters occupy is painted in similarly broad strokes: Diggs' Jamaica is a postcard-pretty paradise full of buff, happy Rastafarians, while Bassett's San Francisco seems occupied solely by sassy homegirls offering advice, good-natured Buppies, and staid white men in suits. How Stella Got Her Groove Back isn't a bad movie, exactly, and it will likely please its core audience of sassy black women. But anyone looking for anything other than a pleasant, sunny, disposable summer paperback of a movie will likely be disappointed in the tame soap-opera shenanigans here.
We may earn a commission from links on this page.
If Jesse Armstrong wanted Jeremy Strong to jump in a river, he would have put it in the script