Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins full movie review - Welcome Home, stay home and don't ever come out again - that's to the director and all involved.
I don't think I've ever seen a film as mis-leading nor as much as one thing on the surface but something horribly, horribly different underneath.
Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins is absolutely a harmless and colourful comedy on the surface with pratfalls and family ties scenarios most people with large families will be able to identify with. It features a bumbling and inept hero who spends most of the time alienated from the rest of his family but has a beautiful wife accompanying him as back up for good measure; it uses animals, in this case the old failsafe that are dogs, as a means of crude humour and it bizarrely assumes the audience will find meek racial jokes as well as overweight people generally funny.
I'm sure there's a good film in Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins somewhere, isn't there? Meet the Parents and its sequel Meet The Fockers are recent examples of films playing on certain fears we all may have to face one day; the meeting of the family of the 'one' you have met. I guess the hook with Meet the Fockers is that the tables were turned somewhat on those antagonistic in the first film. But Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins seems to aim high although land well short. It wants to tell us about the value of families and I'm sure its heart is in the right place but it comes off as an insulting and down right crazy film that, in the process, sets African-American cinema back a few years.
The film sees Martin Lawrence take on the title role of Roscoe Jenkins, a successful talk show host in the urban world that is Los Angles, who travels to the rural deep south for a family reunification complete with BBQ and general re-acquaintances. The film is Meet the Parents-lite complete with roles reversed, with the lead as a successful and boyish character rather than a male nurse who's nobody. Twinned with this is the fact the lead has the benefit of already knowing his family rather than entering the fray as a complete stranger, something Roscoe's partner Bianca Kittles (Bryant) whose claim to fame is winning a reality TV show, must deal with. However, there is never really any focus on Bianca and what material there is falls totally flat ? removing her from the film might not have actually made too much difference.
But this is a large family, with a range of different persons and personalities. James Earl Jones must have wondered what the Hell he was thinking when he saw the finished film as he plays nameless 'Papa' Jenkins alongside Margaret Avery who is 'Mama' Jenkins. The serious manner in which James Earl Jones plays the father of Roscoe and co. makes me wonder whether he was entirely sure this was supposed to be a comedy or if he's just not cut out for the genre, period. Roscoe's primary source for antagonism, however, is from that of cousin Clyde Stubb played by someone called Cedric the Entertainer ? a smart move to use a pseudonym after being in this junk to disguise your name, thus eliminating the risk of not getting any more acting roles. The rivalry exists due to the protagonist's prior tragedy in life: the fact he is always beaten by cousin Clyde and that the one time he did emerge victorious, Clyde immediately shot him back down thanks to an incident with a girl Roscoe once liked.
This girl is Lucinda (Parker) and she is now married to Clyde creating awkward tension whenever Roscoe is around. Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins is a familiarly set up film bursting full of potential jokes to do with returning to one's roots now that so much has changed, unfortunately the film is a disaster. The film is a window into another world; a window into another culture that nobody should ever want to experience, a sort of 'one up' on family members turning brotherly love into intense rivalry bordering on hatred for the sake of a few laughs. The film is the kind that sees its characters talk throughout about how grown up they are and how things have changed and they've changed with them, but for all the 'talk' about maturity and moving on, Roscoe and his relatives certainly act as childish as they possibly can.
Another battle in the film is between the slim and attractive city girl Bianca and her binary opposition Betty (Mo'Nique), an obese, loud, egotistical, rural type who comes across as the butt of many-a jokes. The film is full of sexist visual gags, one of such is to do with a female practising Yoga as a male character has a good look at what's on offer but it's demeaning more than it is slightly worthy of a smile. Then there are the jokes revolving around shaven pubic hair and the 'dogs having intercourse gag' card is played three or so times before it's halted.
A lot of the humour in the middle is played off these set ups but the reoccurring gag is that Roscoe and Lucinda have finally hit it off after all this time, despite only having seen each other for a few hours for the first time in ages ? any fool can see there's nothing going on between them and it's only the sex-driven minds of certain idiot family members that prolong this joke. The film builds to a finale that reeks of a grudge match/revenge narrative but in a should-be feel good comedy, falls well flat. Papa Jenkins himself states that Lucinda is 'not a prize to be won' but by the end and by the time we've had the film flip on us, delivering the "No, families are actually a really good thing" lecture, she's already adopted that role ? what a shame.