|Available at Amazon.com|
Martin Lawrence is a very polarizing comedian. With the right people around him he can be very funny. But if he has to carry things alone he can get too “over-the-top” for some people. However, Lawrence knows who his audience is and knows what they like to see. That’s the reason why he is still making movies that make money. But what happens if you surround Martin with a “star” lineup of similar comedians and a few dramatic actors like in Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins? Is that a recipe for success?
In Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Roscoe Jenkins (Martin Lawrence) becomes engaged to a hot rising star, Bianca Kittles (Joy Bryant), who has found success by winning a season of Survivor. Bianca is a driven and success-hungry woman and Roscoe is skeptical of coming home with his son Jamaal (Damani Roberts) and fiancée to see his family and celebrate the wedding anniversary of his parents (James Earl Jones and Margaret Avery). His family includes brothers and sisters, Otis (Michael Clarke Duncan), Betty (Mo´Nique), Reggie (Mike Epps) and cousin Clyde (Cedric the Entertainer). Clyde has long been a rival of Roscoe´s ever since Roscoe lost his early love Lucinda (Nicole Ari Parker) to Clyde and has never let go of this loss.
Martin Lawrence is not playing a very likable person in this film. He spends much of the movie getting beaten up by various family members. There is not much time to laugh at Lawrence, which may be a good thing for some people. Mike Epps, Mo´Nique, and Cedric the Entertainer are mostly funny, though, if you have enjoyed their “acts” in the past. Perhaps the best acting jobs in this film go to Michael Clarke Duncan and James Earl Jones. Duncan holds his own in the comedy department, and Jones steals every scene he is in. It’s too bad the writing couldn’t have been better for them.
The director/writer of Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Malcolm D. Lee of Undercover Brother fame, just seemed content with assembling an “all-star” lineup of comedic and dramatic actors and let them go at it. The story of this film follows the same general outline that all previous “family reunion comedy” films have followed in the past. Crazy hijinks, fighting, and competition are scattered everywhere in this film, but this is not as funny as what you might find in any real-life family reunion. Unfortunately as well, this movie relies too much on visual gags, slapstick, and brash humor. It then starts to drift away from comedy to try and tell life lessons. That doesn’t work so much either, since hardly any of these characters are that likable.
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins is a comedy that relies too much on “lowest common denominator” humor that really doesn’t work for the most part. The lineup of talent is impressive, but they aren’t given much room to really “let loose” thanks to this film being rated PG-13. With a R rating and better writing from a capable director/writer, Malcolm Lee, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins could have been really funny. It could have broken the recent streak of “not- so-funny” comedies from Martin Lawrence. Everyone does try hard to make it work, but in the end this one will just go down as another sub-par film starring Martin Lawrence.
The video is given in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The transfer is really above average, even for new release DVDs like this one. It is very detailed and colorful. Not the best looking film ever, but there are very few problems.
The audio included is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear, and that is all you really need for a film like this. No major problems here either.
Audio Commentary – There is a full-length commentary with the director/writer, Malcolm D. Lee. He gives out some good information about the film, and it is somewhat entertaining. However, not having any cast members limits this commentary from being as good as it could have been.
“Bringing the Family Together” Featurette – This runs 12 minutes and it’s the first of two “making-of” featurettes. The usual comments from various members of the cast and crew are all here. This is somewhat informative and entertaining.
“On Location: Getting Down and Dirty” Featurette – This runs 7 minutes and it’s the second “making-of” featurette. Like the previous one, it is interesting.
“Going Home: Real Stories of the Cast” Featurette – This runs 6 minutes and it features comments from Martin Lawrence, Mo’Nique, Mike Epps, Michael Clarke Duncan, and others about their actual journeys home to their families. This is too short, but it is engaging while it lasts.
Outtakes – There is 19 minutes worth of bloopers and gags from shooting this film. This film is full of comedians and they get a chance to go past the PG-13 rating here, so this is extremely funny and worth checking out.
Deleted and Extended Scenes – These total 22 minutes and there is actually some funny stuff in here. So check these out as well.
Alternate Opening – This is an alternate opening scene for the movie that runs 3 minutes. It’s interesting and funny.
“We’re Family” Music Video – This is the music video for a song from the film, “We’re Family” by Joe.
I can’t really recommend a purchase for anyone, except maybe for extreme hardcore Martin Lawrence fans. That being said, this is nowhere near the best film that Lawrence has starred in, but the rest of the cast tries to make this film funny. It’s not as funny as it should have been, but it’s worth a rental. However, if you happen to miss this one all together you won’t be too disappointed.
Universal Studios presents Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. Directed and Written by Malcom D. Lee. Starring Martin Lawrence, James Earl Jones, Michael Clarke Duncan, Margaret Avery, Nicole Ari Parker, Cedric the Entertainer, Mo’Nique, and Mike Epps. Running time: 60 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: June 17, 2008. Available at Amazon.com