Brown Sugar
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Brown Sugar is a 2002 American romantic comedy film written by Michael Elliott and Rick Famuyiwa, directed by Famuyiwa, and starring Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan. The film is a story of a lifelong friends, A&R Andre and Editor-in-Chief Sidney. The two can attribute their friendship and the launch of their careers to a single, seminal childhood moment – the day they discovered hip-hop on a New York street corner. Now some 15 years later, as they lay down the tracks toward their futures, hip-hop isn t the only thing that keeps them coming back to that moment on the corner.

The movie was released in the US on October 11, 2002 and ran for 16 weeks, grossing $27,363,891 domestically and $952,560 in the foreign sector for a worldwide total of $28,316,451.


Childhood friends Sidney (Sanaa Lathan) and Dre (Taye Diggs), who originally bonded over their love of hip-hop, face an evolving relationship as adults. Sidney has just been appointed the editor-in-chief of the hip hop magazine XXL, and Dre is an A&R for Millennium Records. While Sidney s career is flourishing, Dre is increasingly frustrated with his label s preference for marketable artists over true talent.

Dre meets and falls in love with Reese (Nicole Ari Parker), a successful entertainment attorney, and soon becomes engaged to her. The night before Dre s wedding, he and Sidney kiss and almost have sex, but they stop themselves. At the wedding, Sidney s cousin Francine (Queen Latifah) deduces the romantic tension between Sidney and Dre and encourages her to object during the ceremony. She does not and Dre settles into married life with Reese. Sidney, meanwhile, begins dating professional athlete Kelby Dawson (Boris Kodjoe).

Dre sees Cavi (Mos Def), a rapper who works as a taxi driver during the day, perform and is impressed with his talent, but Cavi isn t interested in signing with Dre s label because he doesn t like the music they produce. Dre s boss meanwhile pushes him to manage an untalented but commercially viable rap group, forcing him to choose between his income and his love of hip hop. He decides to quit and form his own label, focusing on bringing back the real hip hop that his generation fell in love with, and manages to sign Cavi.

Reese is unsupportive of Dre s new business venture, concerned it will fail and they will be forced to live in reduced circumstances. Meanwhile, Sidney draws closer to Dre due to their partnership in the label, and Reese develops jealousy over Dre and Sidney s friendship, while Cavi falls for Francine but struggles to muster the courage to ask her out.

Sidney also grows closer to Kelby, who proposes to her. Dre tells her he s against her marrying Kelby because he thinks he s inauthentic. Sidney doesn t agree, but begins to have doubts when she discovers that Kelby doesn t read her articles.

When Dre discovers Reese has been cheating with a man from the gym, he brings Sid to catch her in the act. This leads to a night of shared passion between Dre and Sid and opens Sid s eyes to the fact she is not prepared to marry Kelby. She calls off the engagement and while searching for Dre sees Reese and Dre in a parting embrace that she misconstrues as more.

While at Hot 97 waiting for Cavi s first single to play on the Angie Martinez show, Dre hears Sid talking about her new book I Used to Love H.I.M. Though based on her love affair with hip-hop, it really is a chronicled timeline of her love affair with Dre. He recognizes this and rushes over to the station to confront his feelings, as well. Meanwhile, in the production booth, Cavi stumbles in trying to ask Francine out again. She recognizes their attraction and asks him out on a date.

The film ends with Cavi s song playing in the same park where their love of hip-hop began.


  • Taye Diggs — Andre Romulus Dre Ellis Marc John Jefferies – Young Dre Ellis
  • Marc John Jefferies – Young Dre Ellis
  • Sanaa Lathan — Sidney Sid Shaw, Dre s best friend Aaliyyah Hill – Young Sidney
  • Aaliyyah Hill – Young Sidney
  • Mos Def — Christopher Anton Cavi Vichon, a cabby (and secret rapper) who later befriends Dre
  • Nicole Ari Parker — Reese Marie Wiggam Ellis, an attorney who later marries Dre
  • Boris Kodjoe — Kelby Dawson, an NBA star who Sid meets and starts dating
  • Queen Latifah — Francine, Sid s cousin
  • Wendell Pierce – Simon, Dre s boss at Millennium Records
  • Erik Weiner — Ren, half of The Hip Hop Dalmatians
  • Reggi Wyns – Ten, half of The Hip Hop Dalmatians
  • Venida Evans – Aunt Betty
  • Liza Lapira – Hot 97 Receptionist
  • Wyking Jones – Bartender

cameo appearances

  • Big Daddy Kane – Himself
  • Kool G Rap — Himself
  • Pete Rock — Himself
  • De La Soul — Themselves
  • Tariq Trotter aka Black Thought — Himself
  • Jermaine Dupri — Himself
  • Talib Kweli — Himself
  • Common – Himself
  • Method Man – Himself
  • Slick Rick – Freestyler
  • Dana Dane – Freestyler
  • Jen Taylor – Boathouse Attendant
  • Doug E. Fresh – Beatboxer
  • Ahmir Thompson aka Questlove – Himself
  • Russell Simmons – Himself
  • Fabolous – Himself
  • Beanie Sigel – Himself
  • Angie Martinez – Herself
  • Kimora Lee – Herself

Critical reception

Brown Sugar received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 66% based on 86 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site s critical consensus reads, Though predictable and possibly too sweet, Brown Sugar is charming, well-acted, and smarter than typical rom-com fare. On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 58 out of 100, indicating mixed or average reviews . Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of A on an A+ to F scale.

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave Brown Sugar three out of four stars and said it was more like a slice of black professional life than a rap comedy, a film thoughtful about its characters, who he said were as deep and complex as those in Terry McMillan novels. Dave Kehr of The New York Times praised the film, saying it sustains the charm of an early 60 s New York romance, and noted that It resembles one of those films like Peter Tewksbury s Sunday in New York or Vincente Minnelli s Courtship of Eddie s Father, in which the city is a wonderfully bright, benign, fulfilling place and nothing really bad could ever happen.

Awards and nominations

2003 NAACP Image Awards (nominations)

  • Outstanding Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture — Taye Diggs
  • Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture — Sanaa Lathan
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture — Mos Def
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture — Boris Kodjoe
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture — Queen Latifah
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture — Nicole Ari Parker


A soundtrack containing hip hop and R&B music was released on September 24, 2002 by MCA Records. It peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

Year 2002
ReleaseDate 2002-10-11
RuntimeMins 109
RuntimeStr 1h 49min
Plot Friends since childhood, a magazine editor and a hip-hop record executive stumble into romantic territory.
Awards Awards, 2 wins & 18 nominations
Directors Rick Famuyiwa
Writers Michael Elliot, Rick Famuyiwa
Stars Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Yasiin Bey
Produced by Peter Heller, Trish Hofmann, Magic Johnson
Music by Robert Hurst
Cinematography by Jeff Barnett, Enrique Chediak
Film Editing by Dirk Westervelt
Casting By Alexa L. Fogel
Production Design by Kalina Ivanov
Art Direction by David Stein
Set Decoration by Roberta J. Holinko
Costume Design by Darryle Johnson
Makeup Department Kate Best, Joseph A. Campayno, Carol Ci Ci Campbell, Roxanna Floyd, Anita Gibson, Quentin Harris, Sandra Murphy, Julie Taylor, Christine Domaniecki
Production Management Sean Garrett Fogel, Trish Hofmann
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Louis Guerra, Jono Oliver, Rebecca Strickland, Mark C. Hutchinson
Art Department Shirley Belwood, Coburn Boyd, Suzanne E. Cestare, Thomas Costabile, Ruth Deleon, Peter Gelfman, Tim Grimes, Michael Herlihy, Nora Kasarda, Monique Mitchell, Gregory Morell, Lyvan A. Munlyn, Gus Papadopoulos, Addison Pettit, Greg Sullivan, Bryan Tonkin, Alyssa Winter, Kate Yatsko, Harriet Zucker, Maximilian De Armon
Sound Department Steve Bartkowicz, Matt Colleran, Victor Ray Ennis, Robert Fernandez, Stephanie Flack, Paul Flinchbaugh, Alan Freedman, Gary Gegan, Greg Hedgepath, Michael Hertlein, Daniel S. Irwin, David Kudell, Tommy Louie, Diane Marshall, Michael Mullane, Schavaria Reeves, William Sarokin, Anne Slack, Alec St. John, Roland N. Thai, Kerry Carmean-Williams, Jessica B. Schultz, John Soukup
Visual Effects by Steve Caldwell, Mark Dornfeld, Adam Gass, Laurie Powers Going, Shaina Holmes, Susan Shin George, David Smithson
Stunts G.A. Aguilar, Dakota Anderson, Sean P. Anderson, Jeff Blatnick, Douglas Crosby, John W. Moyler, Stephen A. Pope, Derrick Simmons
Camera and Electrical Department Will Arnot, K.C. Bailey, David E. Baron, Hugo Bonilla, Andrew Casey, Nicolas L. Charuet, Sam Chase, William Coleman, Jeffrey A. Danielson, Howard Davidson, Keith Devlin, Glen Engels, Dennis Green, Michael Green, Richard Guinness Jr., Marc Hirschfeld, Jacqui Howell, Nils Johnson, Patrick McGrath, Andrew Priestley, Joseph Quirk, Rick Raphael, James Scutakes, Amy Silverman, Mark Summers, Joel Tishcoff, Aurelia Winborn, James J. Ferris, Jon W. Rosenbloom
Casting Department Heather Baird, Barbara Harris, Tuffy Questell
Costume and Wardrobe Department Harper Della-Piana, Careen Fowles, Rachel Leek, Jill Merritt, Kim Wilcox, Eden Miller, Angielette Smith
Editorial Department Gary Burritt, Josh Campbell, Dennis McNeill, Mark Nakamine, Sandra Nash, DeNon Porter, Michael Sherman, Joe Violante
Location Management Beth Avery, Robert Cavalluzzo, Amy R. Gorin, Kim Noble, Tom Yeager, Michael Fucci
Music Department Jim Black, Sherree Patrice Brown, Josh Campbell, Barry Cole, Christopher Covert, Robert Hurst, Scott Kinsey, Bernie Kirsch, Robert Kraft, Bennie Maupin, Damion Reed, Brian Richards, Sharisse Rogers, Mark Skillingberg, Nick Smith, Steve Tavaglione, Marilyn Batchelor, Christine Bergren, Thomas Cavanaugh, Celeste Chada, Danielle Diego
Script and Continuity Department Deirdre Horgan
Transportation Department Peter Clores, Steven R. Hammond, David Conelli
Additional Crew David Acampora, Leon Adair Jr., Jackie Bazan, LaWanda Black, Dawn Bridgewater, Kija Brooks, Dalia Burde, Cassandra Butcher, Leo Driver, Danielle Franco, Laurie Gershon, Eliot Gerstel, Joshua C. Hersko, Terrell John, Alma Victoria LeMarr, Josh Michael, Meegan Neeb, Heather Neeld, Chris Peterson, Damion Reed, Mike Reilly, J. Max Ruschak, Kathi Scharer, Darryl A. Smith, Eugene Stamos, Tony Touch, Lisa Varley, Reid Warman, Marcus Woods, Arif S. Kinchen, Tony Phillippe, Frank Slaten
Genres Comedy, Drama, Music
Companies Searchlight Pictures, Evergreen Productions, Heller Highwater Productions
Countries USA
Languages English
ContentRating PG-13
ImDbRating 6.4
ImDbRatingVotes 9650
MetacriticRating 58
Keywords feel good romance,hip hop music,hip hop,record company,writer