WELCOME HOME ROSCOE JENKINS
* (out of 5)
February 8, 2008
Martin Lawrence as ROSCOE JENKINS
James Earl Jones as PAPA JENKINS
Margaret Avery as MAMMA JENKINS
Joy Bryant as BIANCA KITTLES
Cedric the Entertainer as CLYDE
Nicole Ari Parker as LUCINDA
Michael Clarke Duncan as OTIS
Mike Epps as REGGIE
Mo’Nique as BETTY
Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
What the hell happened to Martin Lawrence? Wasn’t he one of the top comedians of his time? Didn’t he have a spectacularly popular television show?
I knew this guy was going downhill when “Bad Boys II” was released and although his name was first on the poster (probably a contractual item from when he was a bigger deal than a then-untested Will Smith), he was placed noticeably in the background.
This was in the midst of a string of bad movies, including “National Security,” “Black Knight” and “Rebound.” Could we really expect much from “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins”?
The film follows a popular self-help talk-show host (Lawrence) who is engaged to the gorgeous yet high maintenance Bianca (Joy Bryant), whose biggest claim to fame was winning “Survivor.” When he has to return home for his parents’ wedding anniversary, he has to face his eccentric family that he has been avoiding for years.
If you’re having trouble picturing the film, imagine what would happen if Dr. Phil became engaged to Richard Hatch and took him home to his redneck family in Texas… only to have the film version star a veritable who’s who of black cinema. Yet, even with reputable actors like James Earl Jones in the film, the cast itself is wildly irritating.
Forget the fact that we can see up Martin Lawrence’s flaring nostrils throughout half the film, or the fact that we’re supposed to believe the dangerously chubby Cedric the Entertainer could beat Lawrence in a foot race. Other actors like Mike Epps and Mo’Nique vie for the most obnoxious supporting character role. Mo’Nique screams and wails through the film while Epps slurs his words like a drunken college student.
There’s a reason other black icons didn’t appear in this film, and it was probably not to sully their reputation. After “Codename: The Cleaner,” I doubt that Cedric the Entertainer is holding out for great scripts. But someone like Queen Latifah has more class than this film.
One of the biggest plagues on this film is a ridiculous feeling of been there, done that. And it’s well deserved, considering the film rips off scenes from other (and better films). I’ve seen the obstacle course challenge in everything from “Meatballs” to “An Officer and a Gentleman.” And while I love family dysfunction as much as the next guy, there are too many scenes stolen from movies like “The Family Stone.”
On the surface, there’s really nothing wrong with the concept of “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.” Yet, the film disintegrates under the over-the-top attempts of the cast and crew. At no point is this mess funny. The actors try way too hard, and the jokes are uninspired. Slapstick antics are taken too far, and like last year’s “The Heartbreak Kid,” I think the filmmakers were trying to force grotesque scenes into quality comedy.
Sadly, if this film doesn’t kill your taste for Martin Lawrence, you’ll get him again next month when he stars in the sure-to-be-dreadful “College Road Trip.”