Here’s an audacious hope: that someday there will be an African American comedy that doesn’t resort to noisy slapstick to generate laughs. Writer-director Malcolm D. Lee’s Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, a family-reunion comedy starring Martin Lawrence, could easily have succeeded on its writing and talented comic cast. But, like many movies in this category, it stoops to pander, and the high-decibel mayhem — everything from bloody fistfights to someone getting skunked in the eyes — tends to drown out the funny dialogue.
The L.A. couple’s nouveau-riche airs don’t impress Roscoe’s down-home relatives, who include muscle-bound brother Otis (Michael Clarke Duncan), the town sheriff; brassy sister Betty (Mo’Nique, whose lively rants are the best thing in the movie); hucksterish family friend Reggie (Mike Epps); and cousin Clyde (Cedric the Entertainer), Roscoe’s lifelong rival for the affections of his father, who raised him after Clyde’s parents died. The trip is fraught with disaster, ranging from lost luggage to the reigniting of Roscoe’s rivalry with
Originally published in the Cleveland Free Times.