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Movie Review

How Stella Got Ger Groove Back

MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexuality

Reviewed by: Chris Utley
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Romance Drama
Year of Release:
1998
R

Starring: Angela Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg, Taye Diggs, Regina King, Suzzanne Douglas / Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan / Released by: 20th Century Fox

After her smashing success of “Waiting To Exhale” (a success that was at the expense of the dignity of Black men in America), Terry McMillan followed up with her book “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”, the semi-autobiographical story of a 40 year old woman who takes a vacation to Jamaica and falls in love (or is it lust) with a 20 year old man.

Now we are treated to the film version of this book. Angela Bassett (who also starred in the film version of “Waiting To Exhale”) stars as Stella. She works hard for her money… so hard that she got burned out on life itself. She sees a commercial for Jamaica, and in a fantasy sequence sees her face in place of the model’s face and is convinced to call her best friend Delilah, played by Whoopi Goldberg, to pack up their stuff and head on down to Jamaica for some R&R.

While eating breakfast one morning, she is introduced to Winston Shakespeare, played by Taye Diggs. He’s intelligent, he’s smooth, he’s young enough to be Stella’s son. But that doesn’t stop him from hitting on her. Stella refuses his whims… at first. But after much coaching by Delilah she gives in and goes dancing with him at a pajama party… a very nasty one in which midway between dancing, everyone is required to remove their PJ’s and keep dancing.

Stella and Winston eventually wind up in bed with each other. Her good sense tells her “this is wrong” but her body tells her yes. She goes back to America where he calls her and expresses his love for her and she goes back to Jamaica… with her 11 year old son and niece… to spend more “quality time” with Winston.

They start a relationship and go through the obvious problems between younger men and older women… disapproving family members, different taste in movies and the like. But it’s their love (or lust) that keeps them together.

Of course there’s wall to wall profanity and sexual references / situations… including a very graphic shower scene. But that’s not what’s the most offensive thing about this movie. As I watched it, I saw the women in the audience “oohing” and “aaahing” and being captivated by this story. And the love scenes and the “happy ending” had the sisters errupting in applause. It made me think about James 1:14 which says that “each one, by his/her own desire, is dragged away and enticed.”

There are heavy spirits of enticement, lust, deception, delusion and fantasy in this film. I watched all these spirits move around and drag away the women who saw it… some came in groups of 20 and 30 a piece. I felt so sad about this movie and about those women. My fear is that women of God will be enticed by this fantasy also and try to do this for real. I should know… I was in a Stella situation myself once. There was no happy ending like the one in this film. There was only pain and brokenness.

I cannot recommed or endorse this movie… Black film or not. I have to side with the Holy Spirit and warn my brothers and sisters to stay away from this film. Stay home and watch “Sleepless In Seattle” again… but don’t go see this.

Viewer Comments
Being a black man, I am really embarrassed at the tendency for all recent black movies to either continuously glorify sexual sin and/or violence. It seems that our cinematic privileged few want to accentuate stereotypes until they become true. Thanks to the reviewer of this movie to stand with God and not the “politically” correct thing to do.
—Harold Morrow
I liked the book better. It gave Stella and Wenston some character and made them real people. The book allowed you a little more insight into how they were feeling about themselves and the situation they found themselves in. I did not like it as a love story. A younger person falling for an older person may be alright in some situations, but their age difference made it almost offensive. I also did not feel as if love was a motive, only lust. How could it be love when they did not know each other. For entertainment, this is strictly fantasy or closer to a fairy tale, but I do not recommend it for teenage girls who are still living under the illusion that prince charming does exist and he may be found in Jamaica.
—C Jones, age 38