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Martin Lawrence Live - Runteldat (R)
Paramount Pictures
Official Site
Director: David Raynr
Producers: Michael Hubbard, Beth Hubbard, David Gale, Loretha Jones
Written by: Martin Lawrence
Cast: Martin Lawrence

Rating:


If you know anything at all about Martin Lawrence, you know that his multifaceted career as an actor, director, comedian, and producer has had more ups than downs. He’s been successfully sharing his impish energy on the big screen since 1989 with films such as Do The Right Thing, Boomerang, Bad Boys and most recently Black Knight. On the small screen Lawrence’s “Martin” had a healthy five-year run ending in the late-nineties, only to find itself currently in syndication for what will probably be years to come. As far as downs go, well, he’s gotten a bit of bad press for having a few run-ins with the law, but have they affected his career? The man probably makes a few more dollars than John Lithgow and has had fewer gaps in his career than most A-listers. So along comes Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat, Lawrence’s documentary style film that means to rectify his media-tarnished reputation. But just after a few minutes of it, I wonder, Runtelwhat?

The first third of the film passed quickly as a triptych of overlapping footage taken from Lawrence’s early years. Past performances, interviews, news reports, etc., outline his career, ending with a barrage of mildly negative criticism gifted to him by his detractors in the media. This snappy introduction a la MTV, a co-producer of Martin Lawrence Live, eventually transitions into the Runteldat concert filmed in Washington, D.C. on January 25 and 26, 2002. And soon after the vulgarity feast begins! Not without, however, uttering his grateful appreciation to the Almighty for guiding his career and sparing his life from a three-day fever-induced coma. But once he gets going, taking his time to warm up to the audience and his theme, nothing culturally sacred to humanity is safe from his obscene and entertaining commentary. Marriage, the birth of his children, his views on corporal punishment, Bin Laden, sex, and the Civil Rights Movement are just a few examples of bullseyes on his verbal dartboard. He ends with a mockery of his life’s darkest period, topping it with a description of traumatic sex which merits no further discussion. In addition and typical of Lawrence’s comedic style, his gestural choreography and facial expressions garnered the most laughs from the audiences both on screen and off. But overall, the laughs could’ve lasted longer throughout the film. Despite his intention to tell the truth about his trials and tribulations, which he proudly survives, his performance lacked enough personal anecdote and depth for the audience to sympathize with Lawrence. Spending much time on excessive commentary often unrelated to his difficult period made the very experiences he wished to highlight seem trite, possibly indicating that the film should have taken the plunge from being just styled after a documentary to actually being one. Reliance on Lawrence’s stage performance teetered on the verge of being too dull to make a decent feature film.

There’s not much to tell about Runteldat. Lawrence more than exercises his right to both entertain and vent, which for die-hard Lawrence fans might just be okay. However, this film lacks the depth and courage to be labeled a documentary in any way. And as happy as we become for Lawrence in his declaration of personal triumph, we’ll just have to take his word for it because his film won’t help us in that regard. Save your pennies for the rental.

—Maria G. Rios

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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