'Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins'
(Martin Lawrence, James Earl Jones, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2008 / Universal)
Overview: Martin Lawrence leads an all-star cast including Cedric the Entertainer, Mo'Nique and Mike Epps in the hit comedy 'Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.' When a celebrated TV show host (Lawrence) returns to his hometown in the South his family is there to remind him that going home is no vacation! It's one outrageous predicament after another when big-city attitude and small-town values collide in this hysterical comedy!
DVD Verdict: 'Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins' has been compared to the works of Tyler Perry, someone who makes the most headache-inducing films that African-Americans don't deserve, but see anyway. Here, Malcolm D. Lee, brother of Spike Lee is looking to really go for broke with an impressive ensemble of comedians including Mike Epps (underwhelmingly underrated), Cedric the Entertainer (coming off the worst film of last year, "Code Name: The Cleaner"), and Mo'Nique (I won't go any further), while bringing in already successful actors like Michael Clarke Duncan (further sharpening his comedy skills post-"Talledega Nights" - who could forget the outtakes!), Margaret Avery (another student of the Ruby Dee school for lovable grandmothers) and James Earl Jones (always a pleasant appearance) to round out the cast.
With that list, how does the film fare? Oh, it's a funny one. While not a gut-buster (some scenes - including a race between RJ and Clyde - seem to drag on), there are a slew of funny scenes. Lee still hones his satirical vision from "UB", and sends up the talk circuit with a no-good cheater (newcomer - I think - Affion Crockett). When he moves on to the meat and bones of the film - the family reunion/anniversary - the film becomes a mixture of Adam Sandler-type schenanigans and urban sitcom wisecracks. That's not to say it's unfunny. You can thank scene stealers like Mo'Nique and Mike Epps for that job (ugh, the bathroom scene is priceless)!
As for lead Martin, well ... if you expect too much from an actor (or a trailer!) you will be disappointed every time. I think personally that Martin has lost his edge a bit, but he has been doing it for a long time now, and I believe he will be just fine in years to come. If you are a Martin fan buy the movie - if not do not buy it! I is not going to appeal to you, sorry. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, and comes with the Special Features of:
ALMOST 45 MINUTES OF OUTTAKES AND DELETED/EXTENDED SCENES, INCLUDING AN ALTERNATE OPENING
BRINGING THE FAMILY TOGETHER: An inside look at the making of the film featuring interviews with writer/director Malcolm D. Lee, producers Scott Stuber and Charlie Castaldi, and cast members Martin Lawrence, Michael Clarke Duncan, Mo’Nique, Mike Epps and Cedric the Entertainer
ON LOCATION - GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY: A closer look at the making of the obstacle course sequence
GOING HOME - REAL STORIES OF THE CAST: Cast members including Martin Lawrence, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Earl Jones, Cedric the Entertainer, Joy Bryant, Mike Epps and Mo’Nique reflect on what it was like for them to return home after becoming famous
JOE “WE’RE FAMILY” MUSIC VIDEO
FEATURE COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR MALCOLM D. LEE