Opens at area theaters, Fri., Feb. 8. Rated PG-13. 114 minutes.
In this overlong but exuberantly performed comedy from writer-director Malcolm D. Lee (Undercover Brother), Martin Lawrence is RJ Stevens, a tabloid TV talk-show host who takes his Survivor-winning fiancée (Joy Bryant, terrific) home to Georgia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his parents (James Earl Jones and Margaret Avery). In Hollywood, RJ's a king, but down home, he's still seen as the hapless kid who lost every childhood game to his cousin Clyde (Cedric the Entertainer), who arrives at the reunion on the arm of RJ's unrequited love (Nicole Ari Parker). Although the big comic setups in Lee's script feel a bit forced—RJ's encounter with a skunk, his climactic obstacle-course showdown with Clyde—the director continually sets up moments of rapid-fire, barb-filled interplay among his accomplished cast, which also includes The Green Mile's Michael Clarke Duncan. As RJ's crazy cousins (lots of cousins in this house), Mike Epps and the stand-up comic Mo'Nique counterbalance each other nicely—he with sly, street-hustler charm and she with raise-the-rooftops boisterousness. It's impressive, actually, that Lawrence lets this film's supporting players steal so much of his show—as movie stars go, he must be a pretty secure guy.