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Movie Review

Kingdom Come

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, language and sensuality

Reviewed by: Hillari Hunter

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Family Comedy Drama
1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 11, 2001
Relevant Issues
LL Cool J in “Kingdom Come”
Featuring: LL Cool J, Whoopi Goldberg, Jada Pinkett Smith, Loretta Devine, Vivica A. Fox
Director: Doug McHenry
Producer: John Morrissey, Edward Bates, Rob Lee, Karl Austen
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

“Kingdom Come” focuses on a family reunion of sorts after the relatives of an unbeloved patriarch come together after he passes away. His long-suffering widow (Goldberg) doesn’t bother to hide the fact that her late husband was a grouch. Her oldest son, Ray Bud, and his wife struggle with his efforts to stay sober and her infertility. The younger son, Junior, has lost all of his money in a business venture, and the drama queen he’s married to never lets him forget the failure. The late patriarch’s sister is a deeply religious woman with one son in jail and another who’s partying his life away. And in the middle of their squabbles with each other, they have to plan a funeral.

Jada Pinkett Smith in “Kingdom Come” “Kingdom Come” is filled with stock and stereotypical characters. The most glaring is the religious woman, portrayed as a Bible-spouting, critical person whom nobody likes being around, not even her own son. There are also plot holes; exactly why did the oldest son not get along with his late father? This is never explained. There is a decent family movie in there somewhere, but the plot is stale. Other than a scene that implies unmarried sex between a couple, a few curse words and depictions of drinking, this film could almost qualify for a “G” rating.

Anthony Andrews effectively portrays the frustrations of the youngest son who scrambles to save his marriage. Toni Braxton, who’s better known as a singer, is believable as a member of the family who married well. Ellen Clegghorn, a former cast member of TV’s “Saturday Night Live”, appears as a choir member. The end of the movie ties up like a mediocre TV sitcom, as if the screenwriter got tired and just wanted a fast ending. Pay attention to the uplifting soundtrack; it’s contemporary gospel, much of it done by Kirk Franklin.

Viewer Comments
Well, I took my girlfriend to see this movie, hoping it would be worth the money… I was wrong! I am very disappointed not only of the content but the movie reviewers of this web site. The reverend’s name was Rev. Hooker. and along with his lisp implied that he was a homosexual. That right there is very sacreligious. A few curse words, is very sugar coated. I counted around 15 at the least. This movie mocked the Christian faith. any TV show or movie can have somebody quote scripture. I hope the Holy spirit speaks to those peoples hearts that actually recommend this movie. a definite waste of time and spiritual growth…
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—Bryan Brammer, age 18
My husband and I were the only ones in the theater when we saw the movie, and that was a good thing because we laughed hysterically. I could identify with some of the scenes in the movie. You may not like the behavior and attitude of some of the family members, but it is reality. Most families are not perfect. Many have someone in their family struggling with alcohol, someone using the Word of God improperly; young married couples making bad choices, even to the point of adultery. But I think the ending of the movie brought it all home. It showed forgiveness. It showed how God is working on our love ones, even when we can’t see immediate changes. It shows the love and power of God, even with our imperfections.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Paulette Mitchell, age 42
The first time I saw a dead person was at the age of 11. My grandfather had passed and I was taken to the funeral. Having no concept of mortality, the experience swamped my prepubescent brain with a number of questions. Why did we die? Why are we alive? Where do we go when we die? These are deep theological questions for an 11 year old to wrestle with. The night my family returned home after the funeral I cried myself to sleep. Two thoughts filled my head: how devastated I would be if I lost one of my parents to the Grim Reaper and what if I did not wake up in the morning. Moments of deathly contemplation are common to all people. It took me years to come to any conclusions. For me the sting of death seems to have abated significantly but for many it is something that is either terrifying or hidden away in the deepest recesses of the human heart. So it is refreshing to have a film that speaks to the uncomfortable subject of death with a lighthearted laugh. Kingdom Come is a film worthy of stirring up conversations of the afterlife. This ethnic comedy is filled with truths that all can relate to. An all star cast (except for the unfortunate Toni Braxton performance—I’ve seen better acting in a Dolph Lundgren film) makes this comedy a delight. The death of the Slocumb family patriach brings this modern day dysfunctional family together. They are forced to deal with not only death but their own baggage and moral failings. Yet, this is not heavy handed film. It is 100% a comedy filled with the theme of redemption through forgiveness. It almost seems like it was written to the backslider who has slowly pushed God out of their lives and have lost a sense of fulfillment. On the negative side, the characters are not portrayed with real depth. In fact, they are more charicatures but you can watch the film and pick out who in your family is portrayed. Kingdom Come comes across more like a well produced sitcom rather than a Hollywood production. On the good side, there is a kickin’ sound track produced by Kirk Franklin and the funeral scene is not only the most spiritually poignant moment of the movie and the funniest moment. The lisping preaching gives a whole new meaning to the term “filled with the spirit”. If you need something lite one night or you want an excellent movie that opens up conversation about the afterlife, Kingdom Come should fill the spot. I would be a little iffy about spending $6 to see this film so my suggestion is wait for the video so you can rewind the funeral scene over and over again. Here is a hint: stay through the credits to see the final “pictures”. I would rate this film as: A MUST SEE VIDEO.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Rev. Shawn Small, age 32
There were a couple violent scenes in this film. There was also mild profanity. One man lives in alcohol, cigarettes, and a wild life with girls which is played for laughs. The Christian religion was glorified and mocked at the same time. For example, one woman withholds sex from her husband for 20 years because he wouldn’t accept God. Even though her hubby never becomes Christian and dies, she believes he’s in heaven waiting for her. Other than that it was a good film with great morals and full of agape. (unconditional love)
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—K.E., age Teen
We really enjoyed this movie, it was funny and touching at the same time. The scene at the end of the movie is worth watching! Loved it! And the music by Kirk Franklin was awesome!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Bonnie Bair, age 45
Movie Critics
…Thematic elements/topics to discuss include death, alcoholism, affairs and miscarriages…
…Some anatomical references, a few scatological references, several mild obscenities, some religious profanities…
…one of those rare lighthearted films that successfully deals with death and still manages to pull at the heart strings…
…this ensemble-driven message dramedy is considerably less digest-ible with its oversized portions of heavy-handed sentiment and cartoony characterizations…
—Michael Rechtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter