THERE'S MUCH TO LIKE ABOUT `HAV PLENTY'.
A flavorful update of the vaunted romantic truism that opposites attract, ``Hav Plenty'' is a rich love story centered on an aspiring African-American writer and his eye-opening New Year's weekend experiences with a female friend and her unconventional family.
A crowd-pleaser at the Sundance Film Festival, ``Hav Plenty'' is raucous yet refined entertainment that should appeal to younger, intelligent viewers.
Lee Plenty (Christopher Scott Cherot) has, on the surface, nothing: He's 28, homeless and, accordingly, without a date on New Year's Eve. After all, what self-respecting sister would go out with a guy in such a low spot? The only one who may be bluer on this eve of great expectation is Hav Savage (Chenoa Maxwell), a confident, voracious beauty who has recently broken up with her fiance (Hill Harper), a philandering rap artist. That he's a big star, and all her relatives and friends have selfish motivations to make him a member of their family, only intensifies Hav's sorry state.
Educated, bright and keenly perceptive, Lee is a complex equation. While he sports a don't-give-a-damn attitude, there is an underlying rigor to his laconic method. Hav grudgingly senses that there is depth to him; in any event, his unsparing, perceptive insights into her psychology intrigue her as much as they annoy her.
However, Hav's is not the most challenging female psyche Lee encounters this New Year's Eve: There's her kooky girlfriend Caroline (Tammi Katherine Jones), who's on a man-prowl, and Leigh (Robinne Lee), Hav's disconsolate younger sister who's having identity/marital problems. Not surprisingly, each agitated woman gravitates to straight-talking Lee, and that distresses him and clearly does not help his writer's block.
What happens in this romp is the sort of stuff you can't make up - it rings so true. Screenwriter-director Cherot has dished up a dicey, romantic riposte, stuffing it with the real makings of romantic comedy: individual insecurities, desires and fears. The ripe performances are a special treat, especially his own as a befuddled but intuitive writer/confidant.
Among the women, Maxwell stands out as the brassy, demanding Hav, who, despite her outward style and trappings, is clearly a have-not in the happiness department. Lee is captivating as Hav's younger sister who is experiencing mid-20s growing pains, and Jones is a hoot as the bright, brazen girlfriend.
Cherot's visual acuity and sense of production detail is as keen as his scripting. The well-wrought setting, namely the Savage household, is a multilevel, minimalist apartment with intercoms in every room and plenty of empty space where they all go to isolate themselves with their laptops and cellulars. No wonder everyone is so disconnected.
The film: ``Hav Plenty.''
The stars: Christopher Scott Cherot, Chenoa Maxwell.
Behind the scenes: Written and directed by Cherot. Produced by Cherot and Robyne M. Greene. Released by Miramax.
Running time: One hour, 32 minutes.
Our rating: Three Stars.
Photo: Tammi Katherine Jones, left, Christopher Scott Cherot, Chenoa Maxwell, Reginald James and Robinne Lee co-star in ``Hav Plenty,'' a romantic comedy set in a multilevel apartment on New Year's Eve.
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|Title Annotation:||L.A. LIFE|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Article Type:||Movie Review|
|Date:||Jun 19, 1998|
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