Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Kingdom Come

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2001 at 12:00 AM

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Family is togetherness for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and — especially for the Slocumbs — for better or worse. Daddy Bud’s death doesn’t part the Slocumbs; it binds them more tightly together (too close for comfort) in eulogy — and for a few laughs.

The flatulent Reverend Hooker (Cedric the Entertainer) eulogizes Bud as “a strong man.” When the Slocumbs’ oldest, Ray Bud (L.L. Cool J) takes his turn, he remembers his daddy as a “hard man.” But Mamma Slocumb’s (Whoopi Goldberg) sentiment is straight-no-chaser as she boils her dearly departed husband down to the three words she wishes carved on his gravestone: “Mean and Surly.”

The Slocumb boys, Ray Bud and his brother, Junior (Anthony Anderson), are two bruised apples that haven’t fallen far from their daddy’s tree.

Ray Bud was a drunk. Now, he’s in recovery with a steady job and a pretty wife, Lucille (Vivica A. Fox). Life would be all good if Lucille could carry a baby full term — and he could stay sober.

Junior is an ambitious loser. He’s lost his money on the next-big-thing. Now, he, his Whitney Houston-wannabe wife (Jada Pinkett) and their two brats are black trailer trash, “The Honeymooners” meets “Married ... with Children” — but more dysfunctional.

Last, but not least, there’s Bud’s holy-roller sister, Marguerite (Loretta Devine) and her lazy, good-for-nuthin’, triflin’ (at least in her opinion) son, Royce (Darius McCrary). The stereotypical Jewish mother has nothing on Sister Marguerite when it comes to dishing out guilt on a child.

The Slocumbs come together around dead Daddy Bud — rubbing old wounds sore and open — and come apart at the seams like a cheap suit.

Kingdom Come is the latest all-black-cast family melodrama, a big-screen soap opera like Soul Food (1997), but with a comic twist, a few smiles and laughs. Though the acting has its moments, it’s mostly uneven. The script follows suit with a comedy plot thicker than water and bogged down with bad blood. But in the miraculous Oz of comedy, it’s all good ever after.

Before Daddy Bud’s “Heavenly Express” casket, all their wishes come true. Maybe the magic is in their togetherness.

E-mail James Keith La Croix at letters@metrotimes.com.

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