Review by Steve Rhodes|
2 stars out of 4
Martin Lawrence, an actor who is responsible for some good comedies (BLACK
KNIGHT) and some bad ones (BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE), returns to his standup comedic
roots in a performance film titled MARTIN LAWRENCE LIVE: RUNTELDAT. After a
self-serving montage about his troubles with the police -- He was arrested, high
as a kite, running through heavy traffic while carrying a gun. -- he enters the
stage like a rock star.
Roger Ebert has said that the jokes in this movie aren't in themselves funny but
that Lawrence's delivery makes them work. Ebert is almost right. The
foul-mouthed jokes aren't fresh or funny, no matter how many times Lawrence uses
the F-word. He is a gifted physical comedian and does try hard to make them
succeed, but it's hopeless. While I admired his energy and his delivery skills,
I rarely laughed.
When I did laugh, it was often an embarrassed laugh like one that might
inadvertently come out when someone surprises you with a racist joke and you
laugh before you can catch yourself. Many of Lawrence's jokes are quite
misogynistic. He calls prenups IOUs. One of his stories concerns a married man
who doesn't speak the truth unless he's drunk. "When I looked at you, you
looked good from afar," he tells his wife about the time when she was
seventy-five pounds lighter. "Now, you're far from good looking."
Lawrence covers a wide range of subjects from a perfunctory tribute to 9-11
patriotism to a put-down of white parents' naive belief in the power of
time-outs for their kids. Black parents, he explains, won't put up with the
disrespect that white parents will. Blacks, he brags, will use a car seat belt
or whatever it takes to tame their kids. Beat 'em into submission is his
answer. What's frighteningly obvious is that he actually believes this violent
theory of child raising.
Lawrence should stick to his day job. He's a better actor than a standup
MARTIN LAWRENCE LIVE: RUNTELDAT runs 1:44. It is rated R for "crude sexual
dialogue and pervasive language" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
My son Jeffrey, age 13, gave it ***, saying that it was funny because Lawrence
is such a good comedian.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes