"The Other Brother" is a perfectly pleasant if slightly pokey comedy about two Harlem brothers (Mekhi Phifer and Andre Blake), one square, the other hip--or so he thinks. Phifer's Martin has always been a solid citizen, reliable and courteous, who has a nice townhouse on the landmark Striver's Row. Blake's Junnie is a player who has a way with women and is notoriously undependable.
Martin has terrible luck with women, and after the latest has proved unfaithful, he eventually lets his brother talk him into teaching him how to be a player. The lessons sink in only too well, threatening a budding attraction between him and a new neighbor (Tangi Miller).
Feature-debuting writer-producer-director Mandel Holland and his crew bring a high professional sheen to "The Other Brother," and Holland's large cast is attractive and assured, with Phifer continuing to shine with the star quality evident from his first screen appearance in Spike Lee's "Clockers." Michele Morgan plays a loyal but wise ex-girl friend of Junnie's, and Ebony Jo-An is the brothers' mother, quickly charmed by Junnie even if she can see straight through him but so swift to depend upon the serious Martin that she forgets to show him affection and respect. "The Other Brother" unobtrusively grows more serious as its progresses. The timelessly beautiful Carmen de Lavallade has a nifty cameo.
Refreshingly, "The Other Brother" shows those parts of Harlem that rarely make it to the screen--handsome Victorian townhouses and gracious parks that are the equal of the most charming sections of Greenwich Village. Cinematographer Matthew Clark not only captures their beauty but also brings a warm glow to the entire film.
MPAA-rated R, for language and sexual content. Times guidelines: adult themes and situations, including considerable drinking.
'The Other Brother'
A Xenon Pictures presentation of a Delflix Pictures production. Writer-producer-director Mandel Holland. Cinematographer Matthew Clark. Editor Anna Celada. Music supervisors J.C. McCoy, Dennis Poore. Costumes Mildred Brignoni. Production designer Milady D. JB Hartmann. Art director Phillipe Hartmann. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes.
Exclusively at the Magic Johnson Theatres, Crenshaw Plaza, Baldwin Hills, (323) 290-5900.