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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.41%
Worth A Look: 25.93%
Just Average: 7.41%
Pretty Crappy: 3.7%

3 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins
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by Eugene Novikov

"There is no earthly reason to pay money for this."
1 stars

Gentle readers, gird your loins for one churlish, grumpy, out-of-touch-with-the-public movie review. I pride myself on a certain measure of populism, but WELCOME HOME ROSCOE JENKINS is the kind of film that drives me to ask who the hell pays to watch this crap, and what is wrong with their heads. Large swaths of it made me think of the cinematic offerings in the future world imagined by Mike Judge in "Idiocracy," where a close-up of a flatulent rear end is projected on the screen for the amusement of the masses. And like Luke Wilson's bewildered character in that film, I wanted to know whose ass it was, and why it was farting.

This is a huge disappointment from director Malcolm D. Lee, whose previous efforts -- Undercover Brother and Roll Bounce (The Best Man I haven't seen) -- suggested a developing gift for sincere mainstream filmmaking that didn't insult intelligent viewers. A possible explanation is that Roscoe Jenkins, unlike those two films, was written by Lee himself. I favor an alternative one: never before has Lee tangled with Martin Lawrence, or anyone with a comparable talent for spoiling everything within a five-mile radius. (Reasonable minds will differ, but I don't think Eddie Griffin comes close.) Roscoe Jenkins is on par with much of Lawrence's recent output. The man is a cancer.

This is the story of "Dr. R.J. Stevens," a successful daytime talk show host and author of a popular self-help book called "Team of Me," which teaches betterment via self-reliance. For some reason he's engaged to an awful woman named Bianca (Joy Bryant), a Survivor winner who is ruthless ambition personified, with an outspoken "win at any cost" philosophy. Having succumbed to the allure of Hollywood, he's stayed away from his family and childhood home in the Deep South, but this year he will return for the annual Jenkins family reunion extravaganza, which will give him the opportunity to settle old scores, rekindle old flames, and repeatedly get hit in the nuts.

The movie actually picks up a bit when Roscoe (as he used to be known before taking on a stage name) arrives at the Jenkins family compound, mostly because the appearance of the lively supporting cast (including James Earl Jones, Michael Clarke Duncan, Mo'Nique, and eventually Cedric the Entertainer) briefly relieves us of having to listen to Lawrence's insufferable riffing. But the respite proves to be short-lived as Lawrence soon again takes center stage. He really only does one type of comedy -- manic desperation -- and he does it in the most crass and unpleasant possible way. Roscoe Jenkins plays right into his hands, surrounding him with humping dogs and shrill secondary characters (Mike Epps's Reggie is pretty much unforgivable), and ultimately putting him in a climactic sequence that involves an obstacle course race. Each year, I happily endure much at the movies that most people are smart enough to avoid, and I am telling you that watching Lawrence here is a punishment.

The supporting players, Mike Epps aside, could have saved the film were it not for the screenplay. Mo'Nique, who is permitted to roam in her flamboyantly sassy element, does actually manage to enliven the proceedings; she's naturally funny and gets a laugh or two just by doing her thing. But everyone else is forced to recite the film's painfully obvious, syrupy nonsense -- the same crusty messages about the Importance of Family, delivered via graceless speechifying and interspersed between set pieces of awful, shrill, profane "comedy." There are no real characters, because everyone's roles are pre-ordained, and the outcome a foregone conclusion. Roscoe's fiancée is an evil bitch and must be destroyed. Roscoe's dad (Jones) must realize that he loves and misses his son. Roscoe himself must come around, reject Hollywood superficiality (he starts the film with a plan to film his parents' anniversary celebration for a television special), and declare his adoration for his family and his roots. The film makes a beeline for these conclusions, and doesn't let anyone say or do a single interesting thing in the meantime.

At a certain point, film critics must recognize that some movies are simply not made "for them." And I'm not oblivious, at least not entirely: I know that there's an audience for Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, and a contingent that will enjoy it. Finding Martin Lawrence funny helps; seeing only a few films a year helps even more. But I've seen this movie a thousand times before, and a thousand times better. You probably have too.

(Reprinted from Filmblather.com)

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16878&reviewer=419
originally posted: 02/08/08 00:45:05
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User Comments

10/31/10 Jairobe Can someone tell me why Martin Lawrence HAS to play a gigantic asshole in every movie!? 1 stars
8/21/09 mr.mike OK to watch on cable. 3 stars
8/11/08 Jon G all the superstar actors and it comes out this lame.....makes me sick 1 stars
7/20/08 George Barksdale Could have been better, but was funny in most spots 3 stars
5/31/08 Jacqueline Carpenter Great movie 5 stars
2/21/08 Kelly jean I thought it was a cute movie about family 4 stars
2/17/08 ceredo the "actors?" should be forced to watch this in a movie theatre with paying patrons 2 stars
2/09/08 smartycutie Awesome movie, if you don't like it, maybe you're not supposed to! 5 stars
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  08-Feb-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 17-Jun-2008



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