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MARTIN LAWRENCE:  RUNTELDAT

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Martin Lawrence
Director: David Raynr
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 103 Minutes
Release Date: January 7, 2003

“I got to come out and tell MY OWN story. I ain't waitin' for the E! True Hollywood Story to tell my s**t!”  

Film ***

You simply have got to hand it to Martin Lawrence. The actor/comedian has been through some of the most trying times of any celebrity. With his name frequently plastered on just about every tabloid news show, which has at times very much exaggerated the story to the extreme, Martin makes a bold choice to reveal the truth in a new funny and very personal one man comedy show titled Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat. Lawrence has grown to become one of the biggest stars in cinematic comedy, but stand-up is where he came from before hitting it big, and it's neat to see him return to his roots, and he puts on quite a show.

The movie begins with a montage of all the publicized details of Martin's various run-ins with the law, as well as the time he came close to buying the farm when he collapsed while jogging on a hot summer day back in 1999, which put him in a coma. For someone who's been through so much, especially with the entire country watching, I find Martin very courageous for putting on this show. The presentation, filmed at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., is very reflective of the actor's troubled times, as well as some very funny takes on disciplining children, childbirth, sex, civil rights, and yes, the cha cha slide, a dance that has annoyed me very much, too.

Some of the material at hand seems like the sort of stuff all comics touch on, but the strength is in Lawrence's performance. He is a veteran comic with top-notch timing and consistent energy. When he delves into his discussions of civil rights, he throws in a spin on Martin Luther King, Jr. that is jaw-droppingly hysterical. The real energy in the performance comes when he discusses his numerous run-ins with the law, which came as a result of crazy behavior from smoking a certain…well…you know where I'm getting at. What Lawrence does with this material is show that even some of the more embarrassing aspects of someone's life, even those who happen to be famous, are the best things to laugh at, rather than simply judging someone on.

Consistently funny and thoroughly uncompromising, Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat is an engaging stand up performance from one of the top comedians of recent years. For my money, Martin Lawrence has made a bold effort to come out and confront his misfortunes, while at the same time turning the real life events into marvelous comedy material.

Video **1/2

I've come to expect nothing spectacular when watching a stand-up comedy concert, be it a videotaped or filmed production, but Paramount makes the most of it with their anamorphic transfer. Confined to one setting, the picture quality is mostly decent, with the stage background turning up very nicely. But I did happen to notice some grainy backgrounds in several close up shots, which resulted in this overall mixed opinion. A full screen version is also available.

Audio ***1/2

As for the audio department, concert movies always come to life right in your living room, and Runteldat is no exception. Both the performer's delivery and the reaction of the crowd are mixed in nicely with very well done 5.1 mix. Like the material at hand, Lawrence's voice is a powered force, and the audio presentation enhances this notion all the way.

Features ***

Some decent extras here, including a commentary track by director David Raynr, producer Michael Hubbard, and executive producer Robert Lawrence. Also featured is a deleted scene, a featurette titled “Backstage Pass”, and a trailer.

Summary:

Runteldat is Martin Lawrence at the top of his game. Both funny and strikingly personal, this makes a perfect show offering for those in search of many good laughs.