Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 7
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WELCOME TO OUR FAMILY REUNION: Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins (James Earl Jones with his back to the camera and Margaret Avery first woman to the left of Jones) are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary by having their family join them at a picnic in their hometown of Dry Springs Georgia.

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins: Egotistical Talk-Show Host Humbled at Family Reunion

Kam Williams

Dr. RJ Stevens (Martin Lawrence) is on top of the world. As the host of a popular TV talk show he has millions of adoring fans and the self-help guru has also just published a new book, The Team of Me, in which he shares his “winning by any means necessary” philosophy.

With money to burn and engaged to the beautiful, but insufferable Bianca (Joy Bryant), a recent winner of the television reality-series Survivor, it’s no surprise that success has gone to his head. However, the shallow superstar is about to be cut down to size when he leaves Hollywood, where he enjoys a lavish lifestyle, to visit his rural hometown of Dry Springs, Georgia for the first time in nine years.

The occasion is a family reunion convened to celebrate his parents’ (James Earl Jones and Margaret Avery) 50th wedding anniversary. RJ returns home with his fiancée and her lap dog Fifi and his ten-year-old son Jamaal (Damani Roberts). Dr. Stevens is determined to show his relatives that he’s no longer the wimpy loser who never got any respect as a child.

When Bianca’s pampered dog spills beet juice all over RJ’s lap before they even arrive in Dry Springs, we get a clue that the bulk of the jokes in this movie will come at his expense. This is just the first of several indignities he suffers that are caused by animals. RJ has run-ins with a skunk, a snake, and a big dog Bucky. Unfortunately, as flat as the animal slapstick humor is, those exchanges are still more amusing than the episodes between RJ and the members of his family.

We learn that RJ has changed his name from Roscoe Steven Jenkins, Jr. because he is embarrassed by his family, a bunch of rubes who don’t take kindly to their famous kin’s high-falutin’ airs.

There’s his pea-brained brother Otis (Michael Clarke Duncan) and his sister Betty (Mo’nique), who boasts about being “too much woman for one man.” And we have cousin Clyde (Cedric the Entertainer), a womanizer who stole the heart of RJ’s childhood crush Lucinda (Nicole Ari Parker). To add insult to injury, cousin Reggie (Mike Epps) rudely chases after RJ’s fiancée Bianca.

These characters, played mostly by comedians, seem to be taking turns doing their expletive and N-word laced standup comedy acts. Their pathetic brand of humor trades in tiresome, mean-spirited, and self-loathing jokes about Forest Whitaker’s wandering eye, Minister Farrakhan and eating pork, good hair versus bad hair, and light skin versus dark skin, to name a few.

If lines like, “I’m gonna slap the black off you,” “Faster than a runaway slave,” “I’m gonna cut you up,” and “You ain’t got no class!” make you laugh, then Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins might be right up your alley.

Not even a soulful soliloquy before the closing credits about the importance of family can undo the damage already done by this pointless minstrel show.

Fair (1 star). Rated PG-13 for profanity, ethnic slurs, crude humor, sexual content, and drug references. Running time: 114 minutes. Studio: Universal Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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