The wait for fans to see the big screen adaptation of Patrik- Ian Polk's groundbreaking black gay television series Noah's Arc is down to it's final weeks, but the wait ended for me last night after accepting an invitation to attend an advance screening of Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom in New York City.
The popular series which followed the lives of a group of black gay men as they navigated through life and love in Los Angeles aired onMTV's LOGO Network from 2005 to early 2007 and became the first scripted show produced by the upstart network and arguably it's first taste of measured success, gaining legions of devoted fans both gay and straight.
The show was abruptly cancelled at the end of season two leaving loose ends, disappointed and irate fans, and a promise by the network to turn the beloved show into a feature film. The idea of Polk's unapologetic gay romantic comedy transitioning to the big screen drew it's fair share of skepticism that is still alive although the film is scheduled to hit select theaters on October 24th.
Fast forward a year and a half later and not only does Patrik Ian-Polk and LOGO deliver on their promise but they've created a film that we can all be proud of.
Jumping The Broom picks up two years after the show's season two cliffhanger finale. The boys have all traveled from Los Angeles to Martha's Vineyard to witness the marriage of Noah Nicholson(Daryl Stephens) and Wade Robinson(Jensen Atwood). The screenwriters cleverly delegate pieces of the story to each of the main characters in the beginning to catch anyone up to speed that may not be familiar with how the series ended.
Alex played by the hilarious Rodney Chester provides the comic relief as the self-appointed wedding planner who has planned every detail of the ceremony down to the final hour. Professor Chance Counter(Doug Spearman) and Eddie McIntyre(Jonathan Julian) who have now been married for four years and appear to be happy on the surface are confronted with the ugly reality that there relationship is in trouble, thanks to some help from 19 year old Brandon(Gary Leroi Gray), Ricky's(Christian Vincent) invited guest and latest addition to a long list of sexual partners.
As the big day approaches the truth begins to unravel and things are not as they seem. Everyone has a secret...and I do mean everyone.
There is not a dull moment to be found in Jumping The Broom. From the return of closeted British rapper Baby Gat to Noah's ultra Hollywood boss Brandy and new character Mrs. Robinson(Tonya Pinkins) who plays Wade's mother. Polk expands on the background of the lead and supporting characters while offering answers surrounding their behavior. This important development lends itself greatly to the relationship between Ricky, Noah, and Wade and serves as one of the juiciest and unexpected moments in the film. I would love to give you details but I don't want to ruin it for you, so you"ll just have to wait and see for yourself. But trust me it's definitely one of those black movie theater experiences when you have no choice but to shout at the screen!
Daryl Stephens is quite impressive in the title role and shows amazing growth as an actor and offers up a more well rounded and polished Noah. It's clear from the beginning he understands his characters journey. Equally impressive is Jensen Atwood's performance of the sexy Wade. This time around Wade contributes his good looks along with an emotional depth that was rarely seen in the series.
I'm certain fans will begin to put the pressure on LOGO and Polk to return Noah's Arc back to the small screen after the release of Jumping The Broom and it would be worth it. I'm not sure if it's even possible but a year ago we didn't think the film was possible and here it is.
I can't even begin to describe how powerful it is to see black gay characters that reflect our lives on the big screen. Whether you're a fan of the show or not there is no denying what Polk and his cast have done in the area of visibility for black gay men. If we don't tell our stories we run the risk of others telling them inaccurately for us.
As Noah states in the film "Sometimes you have to be a pioneer. You have to at least try to be brave. That's how it starts".
Support Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom in six major cities when it opens in theaters on October 24th. For a complete list of theaters and to view the trailer click here.
A special thank you to Patrik-Ian Polk, Iman Criner of BazanPR and the cast of Noah's Arc.