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Wed February 13, 2008
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins
Some life in the graveyard
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance." George Bernard Shaw
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins is not Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, but it will have to do for the graveyard shift between New Year's and Oscars. Martin Lawrence's Roscoe Jenkins, a TV guru by a different name with a show that crosses between Jerry Springer and Dr. Phil, is a lost soul whose fame leaves him alienated from his family and a stranger to his loving little son. Sounds like Jenkins needs his own show to cleanse him of his sins, so going home to Georgia becomes the extension of his show as family beats him up so bad he'd be safer in the arms of one of his show's more brutal confrontations.
Laughs are a part of this midlin' spoof of black family traditions and language. It's just that the comedy comes in between some decidedly flat sequences and too familiar stock characters (such as the overweight, oversexed sister--a low-rent Queen Latifah-- the shiftless brother with the silver tongue, and the beefy car dealer with issues to match his girth). The nadir of the film is depicting a very large dog making it with a miniature female dog, and essentially repeating the bit. Otherwise the ethnic jokes are often fun and not without their own lessons about the importance of family and authenticity.
In a season when First Sunday, the melted Ice Cube comedy, failed to score anywhere on the Tyler Perry excellence index, it's a treat to be sitting with a community of color to enjoy a few politically-incorrect jokes at all our expenses.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com