Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins

Photo: David Lee

In this broad comedy of familial bad manners, Martin Lawrence stars as a Jerry Springer-ish talk-show host with a Survivor-winning fiancée (Joy Bryant) and a young son (Damani Roberts) he somewhat neglects. All three decamp to his parents’ house in rural Georgia on the occasion of the oldsters’ 50th wedding anniversary. There, our celebrity-life-embracing hero is cut down to size by the relations he left behind, including his abrasive sister, Betty (Mo’Nique), and big brother Otis (very big brother, actually, given that he’s played by Michael Clarke Duncan). In short, if you thought National Lampoon’s Vacation films were at least okay, then Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins is a decent enough way to spend two hours.

However, as was the case with the Vacation movies, the cast is never really made to break a metaphorical sweat. Lawrence is a genuinely funny actor and spiky stand-up, but here he is often merely required to fall over — or be sprayed by a skunk (a comedy trope that, humor scientists now agree, stopped being funny some time during the second Reagan administration). Mo’Nique is similarly given little opportunity to show off her indisputable comedic chops, though her freewheeling monologue during the closing credits hints at what might have been. The result may not smell nearly as bad as a skunk, but it does give off the distinct whiff of underachievement. B-

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