‘People were excited by the message’ in film

‘Jumping the Broom’ focuses on laughs — and morals

Not even June yet and it’s the wedding season at the movie theater, with “Bridesmaids,” “Something Borrowed,” and “Jumping the Broom,” contending for ticket sales.

While it has since been eclipsed by its competitors, the African-American comedy “Broom” came out of the gate a winner last weekend, jumping to third place in the weekend box office and beating the Kate Hudson romantic-comedy “Something Borrowed” handily.

What makes that success more unusual is that “Broom,” produced by evangelist T.D. Jakes, get its yuks while exploring spiritual issues. That’s not the usual recipe for a laugh riot.

In fact, “Broom” is more serious than its marketing suggests, a sort of stealth sermon about chastity, honesty and forgiveness.

Jakes recently spoke about the ensemble comedy, and about making a movie that was moral, but not boring.

Q: In the movie's first scene we see Paula Patton in her underwear. She's swearing off sex, but that's an unusual opening for a movie made by a preacher isn't it?

A: I think her statement is an important discussion, whether you're a person of faith or not ... Real people with real sexual experiences can make choices and go in the other direction.

Q: Your most overt Christian character in the movie, the groom's mother, played by Loretta Devine, is also the nastiest. That was a bold move wasn't it?

A: Behind her behavior is a deep fear of being left alone.

Q: But she's the one reading the Bible and quoting verses?

A: Christians sometimes use the Bible to justify their feelings.

Q: How did you gather such support for the movie's opening weekend? I understand advance screenings at churches had a lot to do with it?

A: The network was not just churches, but sororities, fraternities, historically black colleges, barber shops, beauty parlors. They took ownership of the product. People were excited by the message.

Q: Why?

A: We are a diverse society and we communicated that to Hollywood. Hollywood usually only wants to see a few elements, the gangbangers and hip-hoppers, and that is a part of our community, but it is not the only part of our community. There were a lot of people waiting to see upwardly mobile African-Americans on the screen.

Q: Would you call this a wedding comedy?

A: The wedding was the canvas on which the portrait of two families are painted. A lot of significant things can be painted on that canvas: conflict over black achievement, single mothers, biases within the African-American community. If you only see the wedding dress you miss most of the story.