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Movie Review

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins a.k.a. “The Better Man”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language and some drug references

Reviewed by: Mia J. Best
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 54 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
February 8, 2008 (wide)
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

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Featuring: Martin Lawrence, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Earl Jones, Mike Epps, Joy Bryant, Nicole Ari Parker, Cedric the Entertainer, Mo'Nique, Louis C.K., Margaret Avery, [more]
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Roll Bounce” (2005)
Producer: Timothy M. Bourne, Charles Castaldi, Malcolm D. Lee, Mary Parent, Scott Stuber
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“Going home is no vacation.”

There are those people whom you are connected to through natural bloodlines. Those are relatives. And then there are those people whom you are connected to through the Spirit. That’s family. Unfortunately, the family represented in the film “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins” was the fleshly, rude, dysfunctional type that the world has come to expect in a comedy.

Growing up, Roscoe (played by Martin Lawrence) could not break out of his cousin Clyde’s (played by Cedric the Entertainer) shadow. He moved to LA and became a popular talk show host and self-help guru selling a “team of me” philosophy. On this trip home to celebrate his parents’ 50th anniversary, Roscoe, who now goes by RJ Stevens, is eager to show his family the winner he has become. So he returns after a nine-year absence with his fiancé Bianca (played by Joy Bryant) and his son Jamaal (played by Damani Roberts).

Roscoe’s plan begins to unravel and backfire as soon as he arrives. It doesn’t matter what he has become in LA, his family still treats him like a scrawny kid. The respect he hoped to get from his father is still absent, and when his cousin shows up, their competitiveness disrupts and threatens to ruin the entire gathering.

The “team of me” philosophy that RJ built his empire on is in direct opposition to how a Christian should live life in the Spirit and not for his own self-centered gain. The film makes it clear that even though RJ has reached what the world recognizes as success through wealth, fame and celebrity, he isn’t really happy with his life. This principle is clear in Scripture in Mark 8:6 when Jesus asked the question,

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

And while RJ has problems, his family has more problems. They belittle and berate RJ and his fiancé in the name of family. Why is it considered acceptable in our society to abuse the ones we are closest to? RJ’s parents in the film are weak and permissive allowing their children to harass one another, with only mild rebukes.

Galatians 5:19-21 outlines the pitfalls that follow one who leads a self-absorbed life and describes the state of RJ’s family. The Message Bible translation says it this way,

“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community.”

Each one of these traits, also known as the works of the flesh, dominates most of the characters in the movie.

Anyone who is born knows that relatives can be overwhelming. But Christians are instructed to be angry and not sin. Ephesians 4:26–32 instructs us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Even though RJ learns that the “me first” philosophy doesn’t work, this film has very few redeeming qualities. It was quite a task to sift through the barrage of profane-laced dialogue, the repeated insults to women, and the overtly sexual references, to find something of merit. Almost every joke centered on sex or used profanity for the punch line. There were references to male genitalia, uses of “the N word,” repeated use of God’s name taken in vain, and a fistfight between a man and a woman. In addition, there were many negative stereotypes of carnal Christianity portrayed. RJ’s sister Betty, for example, called her visits to a men’s prison a Bible Study while her family called them conjugal visits. And the term “speaking in tongues” was used in a sexual reference.

Despite the crass humor, there were some bright performances, notably Nicole Ari Parker who played Lucinda, RJ’s secret childhood crush, and Michael Clarke Duncan, as RJ’s brother Otis. Both actors demonstrated skilled comedic timing and conveyed subtleties in their character beyond the often slapstick dialogue.

In summary, I cannot recommend this film, due to the overpowering profanity, the non-stop sexual references and crass humor.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—Do not take or allow your children to see this movie! It was so offensive on so many levels. Language: Used the b**** word through out the movie, used d*** several times, used the N word, used the s*** word and even the f*** word. Made numerous references to male body parts. Even the mother of Roscoe made a comment on his manhood. All of this was done in front of children and the parents who were having the anniversary. Sex: a bondage scene, a dog sexual scene, a cowboy/indian role playing, several scenes where women were in poses and men oggled them and made inappropriate comments. Vulgarity: comments about how the animals would have sex, comments about male comparisons, calling a sibling a wh***, and other comments. The language, sex and vulgarity was so bad that the violence of the siblings to each other and the rudeness they all show to children and parents was the only part in the movie that didn't shock you. Pitiful. This movie was an insult to people who pay money to see a movie. It was not a comedy, it was a vulgar sex filled movie that is not for children of any age. I had read a review in the newspaper who said the language and sexual content was mild. If this movie is the definition of mild, then I will stick to movies rated G.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Jennifer, age 44
Negative—The opening scene in this movie was a long sex scene. His sister was going to the prison to witness to inmates but sexual comments were made as to why she went (she made them). I don't know why they give a movie a PG-13 rating. Why is this ok for a 14 yr. old to see. I am an adult and I wish I had not seen it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Linda, age 48
Comments from young people
Negative—This movie was PG-13, but was not appropriate for the age group. (It is a movie for 15-17 year olds). There was swearing non stop; they used the S-word C-word and D-word multiple times. Think of a bad word, and it was in there. There were really bad sexual themes which where very offensive and vulgar. It showed dogs having it, which was completly wrong, disgusting, unneeded and sickening. There were probably 20+ sex or sexual things in this movie. I'm only 12 now, but even if I went when I was 13, it would still be just as bad!! All and all, “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins” was a very bad movie. I would never recomend it to anyone, and I will never watch it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Josh, age 12