In the growing list of potentially humorous backdrops, the African-American family reunion is rapidly becoming an overused archetype. Everyone from Tyler Perry to Red Grant has utilized the setting for their combination of slapstick and cultural satire. Granted, it gives a filmmaker ample opportunity to splatter a broad spectrum of larger-than-life personalities onto an equally oversized and recognizable canvas, but the tendency toward stereotypes and sentimentality often ruins the insights. At first glance, it appears that the new ensemble comedy Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins will fall into that same clichéd category. But looks, as we all know, can be very deceiving indeed.
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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