How Stella Got Her Groove Back

How Stella Got Her Groove Back, directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan
from a screenplay by Terry McMillan and Ron Bass from Miss McMillan’s novel, is
a middle-aged woman’s wish-fulfilment fantasy and, unfortunately, little else. I
thought at least it might be amusingly bad, but it doesn’t even reach as high as
that. Angela Bassett stars as Stella Payne, 40-year-old bond trader and divorced
mother of an 11-year old son from San Francisco who goes on vacation to Jamaica
and has a passionate affair with a 20 year old Jamaican beach boy, Winston
Shakespeare (Taye Diggs). They fall in love and, after some vicissitudes,
Winston returns with Stella to San Francisco, eventually asking her to marry him
in spite of opposition and ridicule among her family and friends.

There is one scene in which Stella and Winston are sitting in a movie (called
My Last Nerve) at which Winston and all the young people around him are
laughing uproariously. Stella, sitting in the midst of them, obviously wonders
that they are laughing at. I felt a bit like that watching this movie in the
company of a great many people who could hardly contain their mirth, hooting so
loudly at times that the dialogue became inaudible. Here is one example of what
they were laughing at. Stella arrives in Jamaica in the company of best friend
Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg), a fun-loving, life-affirming sexual adventuress who
is urging her to find herself a toy-boy. “I didn’t come all the way down here to
turn into a slut,” says Stella.

“I did,” says Delilah. And the cinema positively rocked with laughter. Later,
after Stella has met Winston and perceived his interest in her, she asks
Delilah, “What would I do with a 20 year old boy?”

“F*** him!” says the irrepressible Delilah, and the place exploded once more.
Also much appreciated by the largely black audience were images of fat people in
a state of near undress acting as if they thought they were attractive. If this
is your idea of comedy, by all means see this movie. Otherwise heed the warning
that Stella ignores after sitting through My Last Nerve with her all-too
boyish boyfriend: if you don’t find the same things funny, it probably isn’t a

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