"Something New" is a romantic comedy with a social agenda. Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan) is a workaholic investment banker with no time or patience for men. She yearns for companionship but has impossibly high -and very specific- standards. Urged by her friends to loosen up and "let go" of her concept of the ideal man, she agrees to a blind date arranged by a co-worker. If only the date were colorblind too. Kenya is set up with Brian Kelley (Simon Baker), a handsome, easy-going landscape architect who abandoned his corporate career to go into business doing what he loves. But Brian is white. Kenya is black. And white men are at the top of the list of things Kenya doesn't do. But she does need a landscaper for her new backyard. So she hires Brian, and their mutual attraction blossoms -to the variable horror and curiosity of Kenya's friends and family.
The moral of the story is that social conventions don't always know best in matters of the heart: You might find the companion you seek if you are open to other possibilities. Kenya and Brian's story is predictable, but Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker are attractive and interesting to watch. The greater social insight of the film may be in Kenya's coterie of friends, all upper-middle class professional black women who fret over the dearth of suitable black men available to them. Their predicament and their views of men and race are interesting from the perspective of an outsider. White members of the audience will doubt Brian's willingness to tolerate the enormous chip Kenya carries on her shoulder. And he is more tolerant and self-sacrificing in the face of Kenya's self-absorption than is believable. But romantic comedies require some suspension of disbelief, and "Something New" is entertaining.
The DVD (Universal 2006): In "The Do's and Don'ts of Dating" (5 min), 8 members of the cast give their do's and don'ts of dating and relationships. "The Making of Something New" (11 min) features interviews with director Sanaa Hamri, writer Kriss Turner, producer Stephanie Allain, and the cast in which they talk about making the film and discuss the film's themes. Subtitles are available for the film in English SDH, Spanish, and French.