Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)
Yesterday I took an impromptu trip to the movies to see the advanced screening of “Not Easily Broken” at the AMC River East Theater (located at 322 E. Illinois St.). Initially the movie wasn’t on my “must-see” list for 2009, but my expectations were pleasantly surpassed in this light-hearted family drama.
“Not Easily Broken” is an adaptation of the book by the same name written by renowned pastor and author Bishop T.D. Jakes who also served as one of the producers of the film along with it’s star, Morris Chestnut (“Boyz N The Hood”, “The Best Man”). The film centers around a couple in the prime of their marriage, Dave (played by Chestnut), a former baseball player turned modest construction foreman who’s athletic professional dreams were short lived by a career-ending injury and Clarice, played by Taraji Henson (“Baby Boy”, “Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), a successful real estate mogul who is into her career and lifestyle more than her husband. This creates conflict in the relationship when Dave begins to lose interest as a result of Clarice’s neglect and puts his focus into a local baseball group he coaches in the inner-city of Los Angeles. Things are further complicated when the two are involved in a serious car accident that nearly cripples Clarice, and forces Dave to be her caretaker while having to deal with the increasing household bills and his meddling mother-in-law convincingly portrayed by Hollywood staple, Jenifer Lewis (“Madea’s Family Reunion”, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”).
This film takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride through the eyes of Dave, as a man who is made to feel like his manhood is being stripped away at every turn, but he is “not easily broken” and fights to save his marriage, the kids in the community he cares for and his sanity. His desire to have a family of his own is also a driving force of his character. Chestnut eloquently portrays this conflicted man amongst a great supporting cast that includes Wood Harris (“The Wire”, “Remember The Titans”), Kevin Hart (“Soul Plane”, “Scary Movie 4”), Niecy Nash (TV’s “Reno 911!”), Eddie Cibrian (“The Cave”, TV’s “Third Watch”) and Maeve Quinlan (“South of Nowhere”).
This definitely a film geared towards married couples, but I would recommend it for families as well due to the fact that it’s short on profanity and big on heart. There are of course moments midway through the film that will tug at the heartstrings which I won’t give away here. TD Jakes first foray into film, 2004’s “Woman Thou Art Loosed” which starred Kimberly Elise was also a welcomed surprise when I saw it and this one follows suit. For those of you who may shy away from religious-themed films, Jakes and the director (the great Bill Duke in this case; “Hoodlum”, “Cover”, “Rage In Harlem”) do a good job of conveying Christian family morals that make the viewer relate, while not being “preachy” and still keeping the film contemporary and also not limiting it to being a film catered to predominantly African-American audiences I might add. If you’re not too busy watching Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway battle it out in Vera Wang or being terrorized by torchered souls and exorcisms this weekend, I would add “Not Easily Broken” to your “must see” movies this weekend.