Neither better nor worse

Posted on 26 Oct 2008 at 2:19pm
By Steve Warren Contributing Film Critic

‘Noah’s Arc’ fans won’t be disappointed with big-screen adaptation


To tie the knot — or not? Noah (Darryl Stephens, right) and Wade (Jensen Atwood) travel to Martha’s Vineyard for a weekend wedding getaway.

Essentially a black gay male West Coast version of "Sex and the City," "Noah’s Arc" ran for two successful seasons on Logo. Now, like "Sex and the City," "Noah’s Arc" spawns a feature film follow-up.

"Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom" picks up several months after the cliffhanger that ended Season Two and neatly wraps things up — but not so neatly that things can’t fall apart again for a third season.

Series fans will be glad to hear that the film takes place on the weekend Noah (Darryl Stephens) is finally marrying Wade (Jensen Atwood). For a change of scene, the gang heads to Martha’s Vineyard, where Wade’s family owns a house that’s big enough for all of them.

"Life is not a soap opera," Ricky (Christian Vincent) says. But "Noah’s Arc" is, and five minutes never pass without some individual or couple going through a crisis that’s resolved as quickly as it began. You have to consider an overview of the series to find any depth, because each episode — and this feature is paced like any episode but four times as long — is made up of one shallow moment after another.
Ricky, the ultimate non-monogamist, brings a trick along for the weekend: Brandon (Gary LeRoi Gray), a 19-year-old student of Chance’s (Douglas Spearman), who makes the thirtysomething friends suddenly seem a lot older than they did.

Chance and Eddie (Jonathan Julian) have been together four years, and their relationship is getting stale. Alex (Rodney Chester) and his partner, Trey (Gregory Kieth), have been together over 10 years, but they just adopted an African baby, and Trey stayed home to take care of him. It’s just as well because Alex has appointed himself wedding coordinator and has a full plate with his "Operation Perfect Wedding Weekend."

Despite bringing a date, Ricky starts flirting as soon as they reach the house and he spies the gardener. The weekend will bring a revelation about him that’s no surprise to most of his friends — even Brandon, whom he’s just met — but may shock regular viewers of the series.

Also turning up to complicate things is Curtis (Jason Steed), a.k.a. Baby Gat, the closeted British rapper for whom Noah is still working on a screenplay — and who is still working on Noah, despite his impending nuptials.

Closet doors slam open and shut like in a French farce, and some of the friends play musical beds as relationships crumble and are magically rebuilt. At times, it seems like they’re trying to scare Brandon straight! In the end, there’s a wedding — perhaps even the one they started out to have — with vows that should bring a tear to your eye.

For a wedding singer, they’ve scored Phoebe Snow, who had a hit record 33 years ago. They don’t give her any closeups.

Director and co-writer Patrik-Ian Polk, who created "Noah’s Arc," has been trying to corner the market on black gay entertainment since he made "Punks" in 2000. Producing material for big screens and small, he’s trying to establish himself as the gay Tyler Perry, but Polk always seemed to have the attitude that it’s more important to be first than best.

Not that Polk’s work is bad, and it certainly isn’t limited to an African-American audience — or even necessarily a gay audience, when you consider that "Queer as Folk" had a lot of straight female viewers.

For better or worse, "Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom" is neither better nor worse than the TV series. The language is more R-rated but physical activity still doesn’t go much beyond kissing. Fans of the series will have to see how it turns out, but it’s not too late for newbies to find out what they’ve been missing.

NOAH’S ARC: JUMPING THE BROOM
Grade: C+
Director: Patrik-Ian Polk
Cast: Darryl Stephens, Gary LeRoi Gray, Jensen Atwood, Douglas Spearman, Jason Steed
Playing at the Inwood Theatre • 1 hr. 41 min. • R

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 28, 2008.

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