I enjoyed Something New and Simon is gorgeous in it, but for me it misses the mark in a few places which keeps it off my shortlist of favourite Simon films. The film is probably labelled as a ‘chick-flick’ by many, although I think its a bit more than that when you consider the issues that it addresses.
I liked Sanaa Lathan in the role of Kenya, and thought she was very convincing in the way she portrayed both the businesswoman who was confident and professional, and the woman who at a personal level was indecisive and lacking in confidence. It seems to me that the film was targetted at the real-life Kenyas, the 42.4% of black American women who don’t marry, although I certainly don't think you have to be in that group to enjoy the film.
I would have loved to find out more about Brian, particularly where and how he lived, but I suppose that the film was not really about him, he was just the catalyst for Kenya to question what she wanted from life. Brian is a strong but gentle character who's not afraid to say whats on his mind, and I think he was portrayed and played very cleverly. He does challenge Kenya and yet he does so in a completely non-aggressive way. Some of the things he says to her are quite strongly worded, for example, he says "Its your preference to be prejudiced" - it would be easy for someone to take offence at that accusation, but he says it in such an inoffensive way that the effect on her is just to make her think about it. Another example is where he asks her if she's just being paranoid - and there are several others where he uses strong words but a mild manner.
To a certain extent I think the film also addresses the issue of class snobbery. Brian is a different class to Kenya and both her mother and her brother disapprove of that. The voice of reason amongst all this prejudice is Kenya's father - beautifully played in my opinion. He is one of the few people amongst Kenya’s family and friends who tries to get to know Brian for the person he is.
There are a couple of scenes I don’t like – the scene at the nightclub where the lighting is particularly odd. And the Cotillion scene, which didn’t ring true for me and the arrival of Kenya and Brian is just a bit too schmulzy for my taste.
But I have to say that the chemistry between Kenya and Brian was fantastic, and I’ll never tire of watching this film because of their scenes together.