Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This was surprisingly a disappointment. Of course one would think that a Martin Lawrence movie, which consists of the likes of ‘Blue Streak’, ‘National Security’ and ‘Black Knight’ wouldn’t have the strength to raise anyone’s expectations, but ‘Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins’ was different. First of all the film was directed by Malcolm D. Lee who gave us a quality film in ‘The Brothers’ and helmed one of my all time faves in ‘Undercover Brother’. In addition to Mr. Lee this film also has three academy award nominees amongst its star studded cast in James Earl Jones, Margaret Avery and Michael Clark Duncan, and in addition to Lawrence who is still a stand-up legend despite the movies he makes, the cast also includes established comics Mo’Nique, Mike Epps and homeboy Cedric The Entertainer. And if that’s not enough lets toss in some Joy Bryant and Nicole Ari Parker to give us something joyful to look at when we’re not so busy laughing at all of these funny people and enjoying these great actors. But aside from the mean spiritedness of ‘Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins’, the disappointing part was the movie just wasn’t all that funny.

Lawrence is the former Roscoe Jenkins, now renamed R.J. Stevens and is a very successful Dr. Phil type self help television host who has just had his show land a national syndication deal. He has a super hot, as well as super aggressive and mean girlfriend in Bianca (Bryant) who also happens to be the latest ‘Survivor’ winner, and a ten year old son Jamal (Damani Roberts) who he pretty much neglects on a daily basis. R. J.’s parents (Jones and Avery) who live down somewhere in Podunk Georgia are having their fiftieth wedding celebration and his mom would very much like Roscoe to come down and celebrate the glorious four day gala with his family but R.J. is extremely reticent to make the trip because everybody in his family, for lack of a better word, is a bunch of dicks. However his opportunistic girlfriend sees this as a chance to boost his ratings and have a special show on the country boy done good, so with young Jamal in tow, down south they go.

Now it’s time to meet the family which consists of thieving cousin Reggie (Mike Epps), Town sheriff and Big Brother Otis (Duncan) and his huge wife and bigger children, Pretty in the face and thick in the waist (her words, not mine) Big sister Betty (Monique) who uses her spare time to have conjugal visits with various convicts at the local prison and let us not forget Roscoe’s greatest enemy, his cousin Clyde (Cedric the Entertainer) who’s parents died tragically when he was a kid and as such moved in with the Jenkins and tormented Roscoe every step of the way. The culmination of Roscoe’s and Clyde’s rivalry erupted over the annual Jenkins obstacle race with the prize being the lovely Lucinda, who grew up to look just Nicole Ari Parker, and though Roscoe won the race, finally beating Clyde at something for a change, Clyde still went behind his back and asked Lucinda out thus crushing Roscoe’s romantic dreams forever. Regardless everybody is all back together now for fun in the sun with bad memories being revisited and demons being resurrected with Roscoe coming to the realization that his family really and truly sucks. And the bitter truth that he sucks pretty bad too. Until the happy ending makes everything right of course.

One of the main problems with this movie was that it attempted to take the overall negative tone of the Jenkins family, and this was one negative ass family for real, and rely on this for the bulk of the humor in the movie. The good thing is that humor is largely subjective so something I might not think is funny could very well be funny to you. The bad thing for me is that I found very, very little humor in the Jenkins family. Roscoe tells Otis how fat his kids are which I guess should have been funny, but where’s the humor in that? I guess it’s suppose to be funny when Otis drops Roscoe, but who in their right mind gets in Michael Clarke Duncan’s face, even if he is your brother? I guess watching Lawrence and Mo’Nique get into a fist fight while condoms fall out her bra could be funny, but it seemed abusive to me and oddly enough I don’t find abuse funny. Cedric the Entertainer had almost nothing to do in this movie while Mike Epps had way too much to do and could there be a worst movie dad than James Earl Jones Mr. Jenkins? That dude who played the dad in ‘The Stepfather’ thought that Mr. Jenkins needed to lighten up.

Only Michael Clarke Duncan comes out this thing unscathed as he was consistently funny in this thing and he’s not even a comedian. If you’ve ever seen Mike Epps stand up routine, he’s a funny dude, but his comedy is hard edged and bitter. In movies however, ever since those ‘Friday’ sequels, they’ve tried to turn him into Chris Tucker and he ain’t that kind of funny. But in a movie like ‘Talk to Me’ or ‘Something New’ where he’s not forced to act stupid, you can see that the man really truly act. But those roles aren’t feeding his kids so there you go.

But it’s all relative because I rented this movie because people I know and trust thought it was hilarious so you might think its funny too. Me on the other hand, if I want to watch a good Martin Lawrence movie, it looks as if I’m stuck watching ‘Life’ over and over again.

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