Hard working Brenda (Angela Bassett) is at the end of her rope. She's lost her job, she can't afford to feed her kids, and her basketball-playing son is responding to the lure of the streets. Then she learns that the father she never met has just died. His funeral is in Georgia, and the relatives have sent bus tickets so she can attend. After saying goodbye to her Latina friend Cheryl (Sofia Vergara), she heads down South.
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Having abandoned his Deep South roots for big city fame, Roscoe Jenkins (Martin Lawrence) is now Dr. R.J. Stevens, TV self help guru, media mogul, and fiancé to supermodel Survivor winner Bianca Kittles (Joy Bryant). When his parents (James Earl Jones and Margaret Avery) announce a family reunion for their 50th wedding anniversary, Roscoe is reluctant to go. Seems he still carries sour memories of life with siblings Otis (Michael Clarke Duncan), Betty (Mo'Nique), and adopted "cousin" Clyde (Cedric the Entertainer). Guilt eventually brings him back home, and after nine long years, things haven't changed much. The same old rivalries exist, his father remains aloof and critical, cousin Reggie (Michael Epps) is a no-good hustler, and high school crush Lucinda (Nicole Ari Parker) is as hot as ever. It will be a trying four days -- if he survives that long.
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Whether this was Spielberg's most desperate attempt to win an Oscar (didn't work: The Color Purple received a whopping 11 Oscar nominations and won precisely zero) or a genuine kinship with the black women of the 1910s we'll never really know. But Purple is a solid enough film, though it lacks true inspiration and gets a little wandering and lost after an hour of running time (and you've still got 1 1/2 more to go!).
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Unfortunately, a pioneering performance idea and raunchy dialogue doesn't actually make the movie any good. The story follows a migrant farm worker named Leroy Jones (Pryor), who accidentally becomes selected for a management job and along his ride to the top he makes enemies of his former co-workers and friends, and finds his formerly sex-starved life filled with options. And wouldn't you know it, the only one which satisfies him is the local reverend's wife.
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