Friday, May 8, 2015

Cougar Town

How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan
Cast: Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, Whoopi Goldberg, Regina King
Released: August 14, 1998



I had not read the novel by Terry McMillan or seen the movie until now, but I was pretty sure I knew how the plot went: Stella is a forty year old woman who's had a bit of a bump in her life. Perhaps she's just lost her job, perhaps she's just gotten divorced....I don't know, just something where she needs to get her groove back! So she goes to Jamaica for a little pick-me-up where she meets a younger guy (not any younger than 26 though!), has a fling with him and comes back home as a more confident woman and meets a businessman her age and they fall in love and get married. We-ell, that's not exactly what happened! 

Stella (Angela Bassett) is a 40-year-old successful stockbroker in San Francisco raising a ten-year-old son. Her ex-husband is Chief Weber from Grey's Anatomy (James Pickens Jr.) and her sister has set her up on a date with a perfectly fine and respectable judge (played by Carl Lumbly who you probably know as Dixon from Alias). Speaking of Alias, Victor Garber (Spy Daddy!) plays her boss. You know, Angela Bassett had a recurring guest role on the last season of Alias. Do you think Victor Garber told J.J. Abrams, "Hey, you know who you should get for this role? Angela Bassett. We've been really good friends since our days on the Stella set." Probably not, they probably got her because she's a big name. And I'm pretty sure Abrams had all his attention on Lost by this point. Anyway, I'm getting completely off topic as you can see I didn't care for this movie!

Stella has two sisters: Vanessa (Regina King) and Angela (Suzanne Douglas, who I wasn't familiar with). That had to be confusing on the set with an actress named Angela and a character named Angela!

Angela's best friend, Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg) lives in New York and after Angela calls her spur of the moment after seeing a tourism commercial for Jamaica and suggests they go there, she agrees to the idea. The two friends meet up on the island for two weeks of fun and relaxing. Before Stella has even checked in, Dee has already met two obnoxious ex-football players who have really let themselves go. If I went on vacation with a friend and she met two unappealing guys and wanted us to hook up with them....ewww! I would be so mad! And, of course, Stella is not thrilled with this. Her "man" is especially unappealing when he whips off his shirt...and pants and all he is wearing is a speedo. Dear God, nobody needed to see that!

Even though Stella is (the ancient age of!) 40, girlfriend looks hot. She works out and she is buff and toned. She catches the eye of a younger man when they're eating breakfast outside the hotel one morning. He sits next to her and they start chatting. He is Winston Shakespeare (stupidest fake name ever!) and he is 20 years old. He was literally only a teenager one year prior. I  knew this was about an "older" woman having an affair with a younger man, but I had no idea he was only 20! I thought he was no younger than 25 or 26. Taye Diggs was 26 or 27 when he made the movie, so he's not as young as his character. Obviously, being a model, he's a very good looking guy. Did you know he's 44? I think he looks better now than he did back then. Of course, I can't take him seriously in this movie because he wears all these bright red and yellow boardshorts and t-shirts and has a ridiculous Jamaican accent and this was his first major role and he's acting opposite Angela Bassett. He serves his role well as the man candy, but he's definitely gotten better with the acting as he's aged.

Stella tells him several times she's old enough to be his mother after he invites her to a dance party (which was the weirdest party ever as everybody took off their tops so all the ladies were dancing with their breasts hanging out...it was like some freaky orgy!) Once she gets over the weirdness of the age difference, they start having a fling...which is what I thought it was just going to be, but no. Not exactly. They start having a relationship. She flies back to Jamaica with her son and niece (I'm not sure why her niece came with them...I'm not even sure which sister her niece belonged to!) so Winston can meet her son. There's a really awkward scene where Winston "surprises" (more like pisses her off!) Stella when he takes her to his parents' house for lunch. His mother is only a year older than her. Awkward!

When Dee dies from cancer (and that just seemed like a total after thought that they randomly threw in there because they thought the movie needed something sad...I'm guessing this plot line is a lot more flushed out in the novel!), Winston flies to  the U.S. to be with Stella and attend the funeral. He ends up moving there and moves in with Stella.

Okay, I'm sorry, but there is no way in hell any self-respecting, successful and attractive woman like Stella would have a relationship with a freaking TWENTY year old. He may not be a baby like Stella informs Winston's mom, but it's still pretty damn young. I don't care how good-looking the guy is. There's a scene where Stella loses her job because of....something....and I know they just did put that in the script because they didn't want anyone thinking Winston was after Stella for a Sugar Mama...because that's what I was thinking! But Stella begins to find out pretty soon they barely have anything in common. Duh, you think? They go to the movies and see a juvenile comedy and run into her sister and brother-in-law and another couple which includes the good-looking (and age appropriate!) judge Stella could have been set up with who had just come from seeing a more serious movie. Stella and Winston get into a fight after he wants to pay for dinner and says that she always does and he wants to contribute to and she goes, "Well, why don't you help with the mortgage?" Ooh, snap! Then she bitches that he never does anything when she asks him to do it and I'm thinking, OMG, it's like you're talking to your child! So they bitch and fight for a few days, then have hot shower sex and then Winston tells her he's moving back to Jamaica because he wants to go to school to be a doctor, but she beats him to the airport and tells him he should go to Berkeley and then he proposes and....omg, it is so bad! There's no way in hell that relationship is going to last!

And can we just address one last thing? Stella never needed to get her groove back in the first place! She was already pretty badass. 

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