February 13, 2006 12:00 PM

By Leah Rozen


Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker, Blair Underwood, Alfre Woodard

Lifting a page from Lady Chatterley’s Lover, this likable movie shows how an uptight, well-off woman blossoms when tended to by a sexy, laid-back gardener. The updated twist is that Something New‘s heroine is a black MBA up for partnership at her prestigious accounting firm, while the guy looking to make her flower is a white landscape architect who zips around L.A. in a battered truck accompanied by his shaggy dog.

Kenya McQueen (Lathan) initially is set up on a blind date with Brian Kelly (Baker), though she balks when he turns out to be Caucasian. She tells him she sticks to dating black men. “It’s not a prejudice, it’s a preference,” she says. But when Kenya hires Brian to redo the backyard of the house she’s just bought, proximity leads to love.

Nearly 40 years after Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the movie’s premise may seem been-there-done-that, but Something raises pertinent points about the dating challenges facing contemporary professional black women and has lessons on taking love where you find it that are of value to everyone. Lathan is an actress of integrity and charm, and she makes Kenya engaging even when she’s behaving like a pill. Baker, in a less fully written part, displays an easygoing amiability. Some thing isn’t much, but during the winter blahs movie season, at least it’s something halfway smart and amusing. (PG-13)

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