On August 14, 1998, 20th Century Fox released How Stella Got Her Groove Back, starring Angela Bassett and Whoopi Goldberg.
The original review by The Hollywood Reporter is here.
Love Herself For Mature Black Females
How Stella Learned to Love Herself For mature black females, however, the spicy, heartfelt romantic comedy Back about a 40-year-old black woman’s midlife crisis might win over intellectual moviegoers tired of car wrecks, explosions, and comets.
Terry McMillan’s Witty and Emotional Novel
Stella, featuring Angela Bassett as the titular character, is based on Terry McMillan’s witty and emotional novel.
As an updated take on the classic love stories of Hollywood, it’s certain to bring in solid box office for 20th Century Fox by the end of the summer. Nonetheless, the clever film’s natural home may be on the video rental circuit, where it will likely rack up a lot of points.
Stella has it all—a terrific job, a wonderful kid, and a lot of money—except for one thing: a soul. She’s a workaholic who puts in long hours and earns a good salary in her investment career, where she also takes care of her family and friends by jogging and volunteering.
It’s a price she’s willing to pay: she’s divorced and hasn’t been on a date in years. Stella’s discerning eye discerns that the men who are readily available are either duds or improper. Overall, she comes across as both a slacker and a bit of a control freak.
The Other Hand
Stella, on the other hand, is fortunate enough to have a wild, more daring pal. Her alter ego, Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg), is not only her alter ego, but she is also snarky enough to get Stella’s sluggish dating life moving again.
For the week when Stella’s little son (Michael J. Pagan) is visiting his father, Delilah persuades Stella to join her on a vacation to Jamaica. Delilah, on the other hand, wants the repressed and overly regimented Stella to sow her wild oats.
She Soon Warms up to a Young Resort Employee
Stella is first apprehensive and reserved, but she soon warms up to a young resort employee by the name of Winston Shakespeare (Taye Diggs). He’s well-educated, kind, and handsome, and he’s only 20 years old.
As soon as Winston sees Stella, he can’t help but fall for her. Stella is taken aback when she finds herself pursuing the young man and — what were they doing with those rum drinks? — falling in love on vacation. As if by magic, she’s now giggling, frolicking, and generally having a good time.
McMillan’s Screenplay Captures the Witty,
McMillan fans will be delighted to learn that Ron Bass and McMillan’s screenplay captures the witty, biting humour and razor-sharp dialogue of their novels.
Stella, unlike other summer films, is on people and their internal struggles and personal difficulties: To put it simply, it is all about establishing a balance in Stella’s life, which includes both romance and work happiness.
Because of her conscientious nature, she spends far too much time attempting to please others and conform to social conventions.
Ultimately, Stella’s War is with Herself
Ultimately, Stella’s war is with herself, and it’s a conflict that we care about passionately in large part because of Bassett’s vivacious, delicious performance.
Her passionate, dynamic, and juicy performance is highly likely to receive her a best actress consideration during the popcorn summer season. Stella’s mixed emotions are expertly portrayed by Bassett, who is brilliant in every way.
Goldberg’s Saucy Act as Stella’s Rowdy Sidekick
Goldberg’s saucy act as Stella’s rowdy sidekick is both hilarious and heartbreaking, and the supporting cast is well-chosen.
It’s hard to argue with Regina King and Suzzanne Douglas in their roles as Stella’s two buttinski sisters. Stella’s protective young son, Pagan, is a runaway success. Diggs makes a good first impression as Stella’s young lover in his feature picture debut.
Filmmaker Kevin Rodney Sullivan
To filmmaker Kevin Rodney Sullivan, who manages to seamlessly combine sensuality and wit, we give him our highest recommendation. “Stella,” in contrast to many contemporary romantic comedies, has sensual passages that are never trite or leeringly childish.
If you can get over it, the picture is smart and heartfelt, and Sullivan’s wide strokes are a little precious. And, for those of us who prefer things the old-fashioned way, it all comes to a satisfying close with a classic airport/romantic windup.
Jeffrey Jur’s luscious lensing and Chester Kaczenski’s stunningly evocative production design are just some of the delectable technical contributions. Ruth E.
Carter’s costume design for Bassett’s dazzling, peacock-adorned finery, however, has the best technical rhythm. Bassett is the year’s finest runway model, displacing the likes of supermodels. Published on August 10, 1998, by Duane Byrge.