April 02, 2001 12:00 PM

Morris Chestnut, Bill Bellamy, D.L. Hughley, Shemar Moore

A mother of one of The Brothers claims there’s a true test for whether a man really loves a woman: When sitting all comfy on a couch watching TV at night, does he offer her the last tasty morsel on a plate or does he scarf it down himself? Most of the men in The Brothers fail initially, but these guys learn fast.

The men in this likable but predictable comedy are four successful, soon-to-be-30 African-American buddies (Chestnut, Bellamy, Hughley and Moore) in Los Angeles. When Moore, a dedicated bachelor, announces his engagement, it throws his three pals into tizzies of romantic self-examination. Each begins rethinking his life and his relationship with his wife or sweethearts.

After Waiting to Exhale’s gleeful, no-holds male bashing by its women characters, Brothers serves as a comical mea culpa from the other side. These guys want to be understood and loved for themselves, not just for their careers or money. Writer-director Gary Hardwick never man-ages to match Exhale’s glossy allure, but he adds a bawdy humor all his own. The performances here are solid, with Jenifer Lewis (playing Chestnut’s hot-to-trot mother) taking it to a higher level. (R)

Bottom Line: Comic lessons on going from boyz to men

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