Wednesday, 24 April 2013

No.185 : Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins at the IMDb

Martin Lawrence stars in this alleged comedy as a successful talk show host who has to reassess his priorities when he returns to the family home and reengages with his relatives. It’s basically a fish out of water scenario rolled up with some issues and knowing that family is more important than money. So far so very righteous but is there something to be salvaged from this worthy premise? Not much!

Lawrence runs his chat show as ‘Dr RJ Taylor' and dispenses homely wisdom to his brawling guests. He’s engaged to a beautiful lady who has just won ‘Survivor’ and confident in his life of luxury and comfort. We can tell where the bar is set early on when he shows up for his plane in a white suit and orders a red wine - guess the rest! With is suit ruined and luggage lost he’s immediately out of his comfort zone and cheap laughs are gained as he has to wear a succession of gaudy outfits.

Things deteriorate as he meets up with his wise-cracking brother, complete with the afro comb stuck in his hair. The brother is meant to have an easy charm to offset RJ’s stiffness but he just comes across as an annoying prick. We learn that ‘Dr RJ Taylor’ is the Roscoe Jenkins of the title and that he’s trying to escape the humble roots that he’s now returning to.

His superior attitude is immediately pricked by his father James Earl Jones and his other siblings including the late Michael Clarke Duncan who kicks his ass whenever possible. The rest of the weekend contains all the predictable sequences such as a softball game and treasure hunt where our man is cast down from his ivory tower and forced to consider what is really important in life. That along with an endless succession of people getting hit by stuff, dog rape and fart jokes.

We learn that Roscoe regrets not hooking up with his high school sweetheart and that the ‘Survivor’ girlfriend is not that nice, as she’s conniving to snare her man like she's still on the show. Will Roscoe’s materialistic approach be forgotten for what is truly valuable and will he end up with the slightly plainer prom queen or the bitchy game show contestant? Probably the latter but you never know. Well maybe you do…

OK I’m not the target market for this film with its 99% black cast but I’m multi-cultural and can appreciate a well crafted character piece that examines family life and the assembling of wealth over other priorities - but this isn’t it. People getting hit in the balls and food fights are low brow in any culture and the wafer thin character arc for Lawrence made for an unengaging two hours.

The third act where Lawrence leaves his son behind to win an obstacle race while being cheered on by his bitch girlfriend to be greeted by his sad family and poignant musical cues was cringe worthy beyond belief. A talk with Dad flagged the inevitable Road to Damascus conversion and as Lawrence’s wardrobe improved you knew things were going to be all right.

It was a good cast and, despite some slapstick that was out of kilter with the overall tone of the film, there were some things to like. Sadly these were remote islands in a sea of mawkish sentimentality and the long-awaited payoff couldn’t be more predictable if it was set in red lights before the credits.

Best Bit :  Personal topiary wins the day
‘W’ Score - 8/23

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