I’ve been in a rut. You know the type – you wake up in the morning and the only thing that’s getting you excited is the prospect of a new Family Circus comic strip in the daily gazette. Searching for a new job and preparing for some large changes in life, I’ve just been relatively stuck in a constant state of bleh. As anyone who has experienced a similar state is well aware, recovering from such a lack of groove, as it were, is no easy task. Sometimes, a hobby is the key. After attempts at taking up knitting, ping-pong, and Lamaze, I realized this was not one of those times. I needed something stronger.
As often is the solution, I turned to the television to provide me with short term, and perhaps life altering, answers to all of life’s questions. As soon as I press Power, I discover that no flipping, nor channel surfing, will be necessary this eve. Like God saying “here you go, buuuddddyyyyyy”, How Stella Got Her Groove Back was showing on TBS. At last, here’s a film that truly captures where I’m at right now. Like Stella, I too have somehow lost my groove, and would like ever so much to retrieve it. A more relatable character I was not likely to find, despite the fact that she’s a black career woman in her forties. Technicalities aside, Stella’s mirrors to my own life would surely help me climb out of this put of mediocrity.
Unfortunately, a quick glance at the program listing revealed that How Stella Got Her Groove Back was in fact twenty minutes away from being over. Surely, a just comparison of Stella’s demeanor pre-groove verses post-groove was long out of the question. Now, How Stella Got Her Groove Back is not one of those films you can just jump into. Clearly, the groove-loss-and-recovery arc is the focal point of the whole story, and if any piece is missed, you may as well have stayed home, Sally. However, I did my very best to get what I could out of this point in Stella’s journey, my tardiness to the party aside.
At the point I entered the film, Stella was dating a much younger Jamaican guy named Winston. Longtime fans of the film will know how their relationship came to be, and if in fact he was the harbinger of Stella’s groove. I only assumed this to be the case, but the onscreen Stella did not appear to be groove-ful in any way. I’m not sure if this was a script problem, or if the blame should be placed on the actress, whom I am too lazy to look up the name of on IMDB. Either way, I left my mind open to the possibility that the groove-rereceiving scene had yet to arrive. In the remaining twenty minutes, Winston bought Stella a lot of stuff, she got a promotion, and then Winston proposed to her. Any viewer would have expected these events to be thrust upon an individual who very much had a groove, but as I stated, I remained unsure. Now for those who have not viewed How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and plan to do so in the future, I must warn that the rest of this piece will be spoiler heavy.
At the point of Winston’s proposal, Stella states that her heart says yes but she’s going to have to think about it. Winston seems okay with this. Now, the fact that Winston proposed would again imply that Stella has a groove, as I can’t imagine the much younger man would want to marry a middle-aged woman sans groove. Then again, I’d have to ask the screenwriter, who I am also too lazy to IMDB. Anyway, after the commercial break, Winston seemed very suddenly frustrated by Stella’s indecision. They proceed to have a minor spat, and the next day Winston announces he’ll be leaving for home, which I imagine was Jamaica, the next morning. Stella seems concerned about this, but still, not that affected either way. The next morning, Winston gets in a cab, arrives at the airport, and finds Stella there waiting, and she says “Yes” to his proposal. Fade to black (sort of).Cut to credits. If Stella hadn’t gotten her groove back up to that point in the film, I imagine the airport scene was where she got her groove back. Pardon this viewer if he feels a bit cheated. As someone looking to get their own groove back, this film’s answer seems to be seduce a younger Jamaican man, get him to buy me a ton of stuff, have him propose, not give him an answer, then give him an answer in an airport without any discernable scene that explains my change of heart.
Ultimately, the film is hardly the groove-getting-back tutorial that it claims to be at the outset. Regardless, how Stella got her groove back remains a mystery to me. I guess I asked for it, tuning in to the film eighty percent into its running time. Still, I can’t help but feel mildly disappointed. My rut continues, and I’ve wasted twenty minutes of my life, not to mention the ensuing seven minutes it took to write all this up. I expected a film that gave me some guidance, some direction! I don’t think that was too much to ask.
Luckily, Diary of a Mad Black Woman was on next.