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WELCOME HOME ROSCOE JENKINS

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Martin Lawrence, Margaret Avery, Joy Bryant, Louis C. K., Michael Clarke Duncan, Mike Epps, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, Cedric the Entertainer, James Earl Jones
Director:  Malcolm D. Lee
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Universal
Features:  See Review
Length:  114 Minutes
Release Date:  June 17, 2008

Film ***

George Burns once remarked that happiness was a large, closely knit family…especially if they live in another state.  After all, no one will love you and support you like your family.  But chances are, no one will know just how to push your buttons as well.

Roscoe Jenkins (Lawrence) knows that well.  He’s made a name for himself on a television show and as the creator of the “team of me” philosophy, but when it comes time to return home for his parents’ 50th anniversary, he’ll learn the hard way that there’s no ‘I’ in team, even if there is a ‘me’.

He makes the trip with his son and fiancée Bianca (Bryant), the latest survivor winner who’s obsessed with competition.  There, he will meet the rest of his family:  Otis (Duncan), the beefed-up small town sheriff, Reggie (Epps), the cousin who fancies himself a player, sister Betty (Mo’Nique), who doesn’t put up with much, and of course, his mother (Avery) and father (Jones).  We begin to see the strains on Roscoe’s childhood catching up with him pretty quickly.

Also arriving for the occasion is cousin Clyde Stubbs (Cedric), who was raised with Roscoe after losing his parents, and whom Roscoe felt in the shadow of all of his life.  Clyde beat him at everything growing up, and even the one time Roscoe won, he ended up losing.  The fact that Clyde shows up with Roscoe’s childhood crush Lucinda (Parker) makes an already uncomfortable situation downright awkward.

This is the kind of comedy we’ve seen many times before, but the film, written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee, is constantly funny and endearing, thanks to a great cast.  Martin Lawrence is in fine form as Roscoe, the one sane man against a sea of looniness.  Particularly hysterical is Mike Epps, who always has an angle and isn’t afraid to work it.  But the rivalry between Cedric the Entertainer and Lawrence is a fruitful one; two comedy geniuses working each other to new heights in the heat of the story.

What it lacks in originality, it makes up for with genuine warmth and humor.  I think audiences respond to this kind of movie because it reminds us of our own families…those dear, sweet, wonderful people who can make us nuts like nobody else on the planet.

Video ***

This is a fine anamorphic transfer from Universal…I noticed hardly any blemishes on the print, and the colors and images come through with clarity and warmth all the way through.

Audio ***

The dialogue oriented audio doesn’t make many demands of 5.1, but a fair amount of dynamic range is still present.  The surrounds are only accessed during a few bigger sequences like the obstacle course race, but the spoken words come through cleanly.

Features **1/2

The disc includes some funny outtakes, about 22 minutes of deleted scenes, and an alternate opening.

Summary:

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins covers familiar ground, but does so in a terrifically funny and entertaining way.  With a great cast and a surehanded script from Lee, this is a movie that proves love, honor and insanity are all in the family.

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