||Kenya (Sanaa Lathan) is a beautiful, successful lawyer with loving parents and a close-knit group of supportive friends--but, predictably, no love life to speak of. Out for drinks on Valentine's Day, she and her girlfriends lament the difficulty of finding the "ideal black man" (successful, educated, and attractive), and the point is driven home when a coworker sets Kenya up on a blind date with a successful, educated, and attractive landscape architect named Brian (Simon Baker)--who turns out to be, to her surprise and dismay, white. While Kenya at first tries to deny their obvious attraction, the two soon start a relationship; and though they have undeniable chemistry, cultures clash. ^The plot of SOMETHING NEW is not, in fact, actually new, combining many of the usual truisms of romantic comedies and interracial dramas. In fact, with his too-good-to-be-true personality (sensitive yet strong, working with his hands yet educated, determined yet patient), Brian is reminiscent of Sidney Poitier's John in GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, a man so perfect that no critic could find anything to object to beyond his race. But top-to-bottom excellent performances from an extremely talented cast make the characters three-dimensional and save the movie from cliché. Lathan's radiant, skillful performance manages to display all of Kenya's many neuroses and flaws, even her occasional rudeness, without ever allowing her to become unlikable. The always excellent Earl Billings and Alfre Woodard bring real warmth and depth to the roles of Kenya's parents, and Donald Faison displays perfect comic timing as her playboy brother. Blair Underwood--as Brian's main competition--miraculously manages to make his attractive, suave character somewhat unappealing. The actors, working with Sanaa Hamri's sure-handed and inventive direction (in her feature film debut, no less), give the movie a lively spark and likeability that elevate it above its genre conventions.