30 Years To Life

2002, Movie, R, 110 mins

Review

30 YEARS TO LIFE
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At one time, Whitney Houston expressed interest in starring in this ensemble comedy about six New York buppies on the verge of turning 30 and taking reluctant stock of their lives. But the filmmakers wound up going the independent route, allowing the film to be judged on its own merits rather than as a follow-up to WAITING TO EXHALE (1995). Beautiful, successful broker Natalie (Melissa De Sousa) is the first to turn 30: Her friends throw a surprise birthday party and she winds up in the bedroom weeping because she's not married. When her promising new beau, Bruce (Kadeem Hardison), indicates that he wants an old-fashioned woman who'll take care of him, she tries to transform herself into his dream hausfrau. Joy (Erika Alexander) and Leland (T.E. Russell) have been dating for four years, but after a mix-up involving a birthday gift — the jewelry box that should have contained a bracelet instead contains an engagement ring — Erika thinks they're headed for the altar, leaving Leland stuck in an unenviable quandary: Does he go ahead and get married despite his reservations, or risk losing Erika by admitting he didn't mean to propose? Chubby realtor Stephanie (Paula Jai Parker) is tired of being a big girl, but isn't prepared for her friends' reactions when she treats herself to liposuction and crosses the 30 threshold with a whole new body. Womanizing Malik (Allen Payne), a successful advertising executive, gets a promotion that triggers an early midlife crisis; panicked, he quits his job to pursue his dream of modeling. And perpetually broke stand-up comedian Troy (Tracy Morgan) must face the fact that his show business career isn't taking off and there are younger talents snapping at his heels. That writer-director Vanessa Middleton's feature film debut has the slick, smooth feel of a TV sitcom shouldn't be surprising in light of her background, which includes stints writing for Cosby, Sister, Sister and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. Middleton doesn't have anything especially new to say about panicky young people who suddenly realize they aren't quite as young as they used to be, but she's commendably even-handed in her depiction of the war of the sexes. The women aren't models of common-sense maturity and the guys aren't all swinish mama's boys. The movie's low budget shows, but the competent (many of them also sitcom veterans) cast keeps things moving smoothly. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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30 Years To Life
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