“Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins” is guaranteed to be one of the funniest movies you’ll see all year. This film features an all-star cast headed by one of the funniest men in show business, Martin Lawrence. Mo’Nique, Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps lend their own brand of humor that will have you laughing until tears run down your face. If that’s not enough, add several Academy Award® nominees, James Earl Jones, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Margaret Avery and you’ve got a stellar cast of characters, especially when you add Joy Bryant and Nicole Ari Parker to the mix. It’s outrageous fun.
This well crafted film written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee stars Lawrence as a successful nationally known talkshow host who reinvents himself in Hollywood. Engaged to a hot reality star, and the father of a young son, he’s living the life. Reluctantly he returns home for his parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, and that’s when reality slaps him squarely in the face. Everything he thought he left behind, including the girl of his dreams races back to haunt, challenge and ‘piss’ him off. Simply put, it’s a laugh riot.
What a treat it is to see the likes of James Earl Jones play against such types as Mo’Nique, Epps and Cedric the Entertainer who stars as the one person Lawrence’s character has the biggest grudge against. Jones is the loving, if not at times distant father who attempts to bring his family together, nut cases that they are.
Margaret Avery stars as Mamma Jenkins, just happy to have a son home after such a long absence. Avery brought a kind of balance or saneness to the film. Don’t look for the Madea type in her character; she comes off gentle, loving and very dignified. She had to with Mo’Nique as her unmarried, horny daughter, and the rest of the crazy characters.
Avery says biggest challenges was combining the emotional drama of a woman who hasn’t seen her son in years with the comedic one-liners always present in a Martin Lawrence film. She says “she [Mamma Jenkins] is a little different, and the challenge was that she has a lot of one-liners. For me, it’s easier to memorize a monologue than it is to figure out how to do that one line, because one line has to say a lot. It was a lot more homework for me.” Think about it, how would you stand up against Mo’Nique’s rapid fire comedy, Cedric the Entertainers quick wit, and Mike Epps outrageous antics, not to mention Martin Lawrence; she was working with the best comedians in the business, but Avery held her own.
Avery is a fighter and a true inspiration. In 1985 she was nominated for an Academy Award® for her incredible performance as the devil may care blues singer Shug in Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple.” Prior to her nomination Avery worked in such films as Richard Pryor’s “Which Way is Up?,” “Magnum Force,” and the lovable comedy “The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh.”
Avery began working in Hollywood when roles for black women were super tough to come by, and it took real patience, passion and determination to remain in the craft and to keep a sense of dignity while doing so. With these feelings etched in her heart, Avery reaches out to at-risk teenagers and battered women in greater Los Angeles. As she puts it, “that work is especially rewarding because it has the capacity to change lives.” Not only has her life experiences qualified her to do so with authority, but she comes equipped with a bachelor of arts degree in education from the University of San Francisco and a master’s degree in marriage, family, and child therapy.
And she has gained a new generation of fans and she looks good doing it. In one of the final scenes of the movie Avery is wearing a form fitting white suit, she is at once elegant, beautiful, and timeless. She is a great testament to the spirit of black women who know how to survive and thrive in Hollywood.
We’ll next see Margaret Avery in Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” which stars Angela Bassett. But for now let’s enjoy her and the rest of the hilarious cast of “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins” in theaters February 8.
– Gail Choice is a writer/producer/director. She can be reached at gcprods@aol.com