"Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins," one of the better recent efforts from the funny wing of Black Hollywood. (It is certainly better than "First Sunday.") The film is written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee, who directed but did not write the hilarious 2002 film "Undercover Brother." Lee definitely has some jokes in this one--especially involving canine love--but it seems likely that the film's comedic quartet offered some choice jokes to the script and fed off of each other, upping the comedic ante as they went along.
Roscoe (Martin Lawrence), is a talk show host who is depicted as a decent but ambitious man who revels in the celebrity life he shares with his fiancé, Bianca Kittles (Joy Bryant). As a winner of the television show, "Survival," Bianca has transferred all the driven, maniacal aspects of her personality needed for that win to her day-to-day life. In a very L.A. sort of way, not seen on screen since perhaps Robin Givens played several roles as a Black man eater, Bianca keeps her world on a tight leash of accomplishment. She knows exactly what she wants, how she is going to get it and what is clearly unacceptable in her realm of the high life.
Sure, Bianca's depiction is extreme--women are sort of thrown under the bus in this one--but the men don't come off looking much better. Martin Lawrence, Mike Epps and Cedric the Entertainer compete with Mo'Nique to be the sorriest and funniest of them all when they all gather in the South for a wedding anniversary celebration for Roscoe's parents. Down home, the successful Roscoe finds himself at the center of the, by now, stock story of the rich Black relative who comes home and has to deal with his relatives who are either ghetto (Mo'Nique), country (Cedric the Entertainer), broke and/or walking around with a loose screw (Mike Epps). The ways that the dysfunctional rich fit perfectly into this odd stew help to make this film funny in surprising ways. Another thing that works is the individual funny that each comedian brings to their role.
The final element that "Roscoe" has going for it is the fact that, unlike some movies, its storyline is not laughable. It actually makes sense and, despite the comedy, the script makes all the characters very human--flawed, but human. There is even some romance thrown into the mix that allows Nicole Ari Parker to once again play the role of the sweetheart. At the corners of ruckus--the obstacle course competitions, the predictable slapstick and overwrought throw-downs--the movie sets aside a few minutes to showcase rowdy exchanges among the veteran comics, passed through a PG-13 filter. Recommend to fans of the likes of this genre.