Cast: Martin Lawrence, James Earl Jones, Cedric The Entertainer, Mo’Nique, Joy Bryant, Nicole Ari Parker, Mike Epps, Margaret Avery, Damani RobertsDirected and Written by: Malcolm D. LeeHas Malcolm D. Lees career come to this? Buffoonery
disguised as family competition with single-leveled characters that deserve a
better-written platform to shine?
Universal release Welcome
Home Roscoe Jenkins has its laughs and tightly bowed ending, but have Black
family comedies really come to this?
Welcome Home Roscoe
Jenkins is full of comedians. Theres MoNique as the angry and
ruthlessly-nosy big sister Betty, Mike Epps as the country-a** cousin Reggie flaunting
the out-of-place Caucasian piece, and finally theres Cedric the Entertainer as
Clyde, whose physical comedy is one of the highlights of this film. To see him
and Martin Lawrence go at it down a flight of stairs, cracking a kitchen table
and finally through an obstacle course is a climatic release.
The do-good dynamic is easy enough to follow: Roscoe Jenkins – now known as talk show host RJ Stevens – hasnt seen his family in nine years. Amazingly, nothing much
has changed when he returns to celebrate his parents (Jones Earl Jones and
Margaret Avery) 50th anniversary, except that Roscoes new sadistic
fiancé Bianca (Joy Bryant) is attached at his hip and his stern-faced son tags
Once they arrive in town, theres a series of scenes with
great one-liners and head-banging sibling connection. The way the Jenkins
family show their love is with a shoot in the face. Everyone gets bruised, even
the matriach of the clan. Roscoe and Bianca are an odd couple, flaunting their
stardom and vegan righteousness in front of his Alabama clan of misfits.
Overall, the portrayal of the robust and aggressive
household felt sterile and unauthentic. There are several kitchen scenes when a
room full of women is seen, and only Betty and Bianca are heard. Who are all of
these people, and what are they doing in the familys kitchen?
If nothing else, a lot of Black people were hired during the
filming of Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins –
elderly actors, overtly heavy actors, funny actors, and most importantly, paid
and recognized actors. This fact alone kept me in the seat awaiting the
ultimate end. Because we want so desperately to bust a gut with Martin, MoNique,
Mike Epps and Cedric, we forget that each one has the acting chomps of our
Black Hollywood elite.
They, and we, deserve better. Its a shame when a good
writer and director whose first film is a cherished The Best Man gets caught up in the process of bad filmmaking.
Please dont waste your time with this one. Send a message loud and clear to
the people who felt a strong desire to bring a movie like Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins to the big screen this month. If its
come to this, at least we dont have to.