Director Sanaa Hamri, making her first feature after a career in music videos, is good at creating sexual tension.
Kasi Lemmons, the other scripter, has had some experience in writing for the big screen, as well as an acting background.
The neophytes behind the camera, however, are bolstered by a stellar cast in front of the camera; in addition to Lathan, Baker and Underwood, the film is graced by Alfre Woodard, Scrub’s Donald Faison, and Mike Epps, amongst others.
He shows up with a different babe for every occasion, which his parents excuse because his dates are always rich and the right color.
Her brother fixes his big sis up with his law school mentor, Mark (Blair Underwood), a perfect match in every way.
As his desire for her becomes palpable, you halfway expect to hear the sound of shattered glass. For one thing, his line of work doesn't live up to the expectations of Kenya's mother (Alfre Woodard, proving herself equally adept at comedy and drama) for a future son-in-law. The film's sharpest dialogue comes when Kenya discusses his shortcomings with her family and gal pals.
She's even embarrassed to have him escort her to a debutante cotillion for upper-crust black society.
By contrast, Underwood plays Mark with a suave assurance that would make a lot of women feel they were in good hands.
"Something New" gets something right by not making it immediately apparent how this love triangle will be resolved.
The trouble with the movie is that it sometimes seems at odds with itself, vacillating between a realistic presentation of the obstacles black professional women face finding a suitable mate and another bit of Hollywood fluff where their skin color is glossed over.
It's a good bet that screenwriter Kriss Turner, who's worked on the edgy "Bernie Mac Show" and "Everybody Hates Chris," had to fight to keep some edginess in "Something New." Part of the battle is fought -- and won -- by Sanaa Lathan, whose nuanced performance as Kenya Mc Queen turns her into the kind of complicated heroine Jane Austen might have created.
Something old is what distinguishes "Something New" from other florid romantic comedies springing up around Valentine's Day.