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Faith, Media & Culture

Faith, Media & Culture

UP TV’s “The Dempsey Sisters” keeps it real

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

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Going for it. The Dempsey Sisters, Up TV‘s latest world-premiere movie debuts tonight (11/2) @ 7:00 PM ET with encores at 9:00 PM and 11:00 PM ET.

Synopsis (from the UP press release): Petite, take-charge, 27-year-old Deena Dempsey (Denyce Lawton) has been working unenthusiastically as a personal assistant for sophisticated, multi-millionaire socialite Olivia Norman (Lynn Whitfield).  Recognizing that Deena’s heart just isn’t in the job, Olivia decides it’s time to push the little birdie out of the nest and lets her go.  Understandably upset, Deena turns for comfort to her middle sister Sheena (Teairra Mari), an endlessly practical, 25-year old massage therapist, and younger sister Tina (Cymphonique Miller), a free-spirited 22-year old trying to find her way in life.  With time on her hands, Deena reevaluates her life and eventually decides to revisit a cherished childhood dream.  The Dempsey Sisters performed together as a singing group when they were kids, but disbanded when a record deal never materialized.  When their big brother, Thad (Antwon Tanner), a charming, fit 29-year old, brings home his new wife, Ava (TAJ En’Phiniti), who has some surprising talents, and announces plans to focus on music management full-time, the stars seem to align for the sisters – or do they.  While their parents Theo (Clifton Powell) and Elizabeth (Valarie Pettiford) want to see their children succeed, not everyone is on board with the reunion plan.  It’s going to take practice, commitment, money for studio time and savvy marketing to start.  But if Theo can talk his way through music label assistant Andre (Dom Santana) to the major exec Taylor Powell (MC Lyte), then maybe the Dempsey family really can all live their dreams.

Review: The Dempsey Sisters is something that you find all too rarely on TV these days. A realistic drama about a functioning family. Sure, like any family, the Dempsey’s have their conflicts but there’s no doubt that we are listening in on a family that loves and supports each other. And I say listening in because it’s that kind of realism that writer Siddeeqah Powell (Somebody’s Child, Love Will Find A Way) achieves. The dialogue is so natural, you almost feel like you’re sitting among this group of interesting, and essentially likable, people. Too much of what passes for allegedly character-driven TV these days features unconvincing characters spouting the kind of supposedly clever dialogue that exists mainly in the heads of out-of-touch scriptwriters. Powell’s script, by contrast, is actually clever — with a thoroughly deft and naturalistic mix humor, drama and insight. And it’s refreshingly snark free.  The Dempseys are subtly and believably portrayed as a strong family faith. Like everything else in the story, nothing seems forced. The cast of actors is to a person spot-on in their character portrayals. The overall message regarding the importance of pursuing your God-given dreams is nothing new — but, like most of life’s truisms, a well-done reminder serves a distinct purpose.

My only slight complaint is that for a story that is supposed to be about the sisters’ musical talent, we see precious little singing. With the exception of one performance near the end of the film (and a rather entertaining rendition of Old MacDonald Had a Farm earlier on), the film has the tendency to bring us to the brink of seeing the ladies perform then it inexplicably cut to the next scene.

So, while I’d personally like to see more of the Dempseys (a series could work), I strongly recommend more music.  Still, there is no denying the ultimate likability of these characters and the unusually good dialogue. For those reasons, The Dempsey Sisters is Strongly Recommended.

The Dempsey Sisters is produced by Eric Tomosunas’ Swirl Films. Roger Melvin (Sugar Mommas, Love Will Keep Us Together) directs.

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Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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