I'm puzzled at what connection The Honeymooners movie has to the television show except for the characters' names. I'm puzzled over whom the movie was made for. Does anyone under the age of 35 fondly remember the TV show, or even have a hint of its cultural significance? Does anyone over the age of 60 want to sully their early black-and-white memories with a second-rate cast and a third-rate story? Can you think of two actors -- of any race -- you'd want to see less in the title roles than Cedric The Entertainer and Mike Epps?
The concept alone is misguided, awkward, and distracting. The plot is no improvement. Set in present day, Ralph Kramden (Cedric) and his friend Ed Norton (Epps) need to get $20,000 in two weeks for a down payment on a sweet duplex. Their wives, Alice (Gabrielle Union) and Trixie (Regina Hall), are tired of living in their crummy Brooklyn apartment. Alice is especially growing weary of Ralph's get-rich quick schemes, which she's afraid will drain their savings account along with any chances of home ownership.
Ralph has several schemes that are likely to put his wife and friends in the poor house. His idea to sell Mets T-shirts bombs, as does his plan to transform an old train car into a New York City tour bus. When Ralph discovers that Norton's greyhound can run like Marion Jones, he sees one last chance to win big. Meanwhile, the couples have to contend with a greedy land baron (Eric Stoltz, miles and miles away from Pulp Fiction) who wants the house so he can complete his own housing complex.
Meanwhile, the audience is talking through the entire movie, or at least the one was at the show I went to Friday night. I can't say I blame them. The plot is set up around Epps and Cedric, and they're not going to make older folk forget Art Carney and Jackie Gleason, or spark an interest in younger generations for the original series. The actors are affable, friendly, and as dynamic as tap water. Epps stumbles and acts sheepish, which he's been doing since the dreadful Next Friday, and Cedric vacillates between serious and soulful with the comic grace of Al Gore.
The movie is jam-packed with the obvious and predictable, from Cedric and Epps' patter to "comedic" moments, such as Ralph doctoring his mother-in-law's food and Norton trying to hide the dog in the apartment. The lack of commitment to the story is just as lazy. Every scheme concocted by Norton and Ralph involves a considerable wardrobe and prop budget, a little unusual for two guys scraping by. The original TV show was an acting showcase for Carney and Gleason; the feature film is more like a collection of bad late-night comedy skits strung together with Union rolling her eyes every 10 minutes.
As Alice, Union's glowing face and natural delivery provide welcome relief from the pained comic shenanigans of Cedric, Epps, and John Leguizamo. It's just the movie's luck that any good comes with a price: She's terribly miscast. Union looks about as world-weary as a Revlon model (complete with nifty clothes) and when she's paired with Cedric, they look like father and daughter. One audience member summed it up: "Why would she be interested in him?"
Here's a better question: When is the new Star Wars movie playing?
The honeymoon is over.
Run time: 90 mins
In Theaters: Friday 10th June 2005
Box Office USA: $12.8M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 14%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 96
IMDB: 3.0 / 10
Director: John Schultz
Starring: Jonathan Byrne as David, Alex Reid as Claire, Justine Mitchell as Fiona, Conor Mullen as Peter, Eamonn Hunt as Larry
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