Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Haven’t heard a word about this one until now. Is there a reason? Or is this a gem in the rough?
Hi. Julie LaVerne here. I was offered tix to see an upcoming Martin Lawrence comedy down at the Marina Marketplace tonight. Its called THE BETTER MAN - and its basically a black MEET THE PARENTS with Lawrence in the put upon Ben Stiller role. All in all a solid mix of character humor and outright slapstick comedy. Its good. I would say a solid notch or two above the Tyler Perry films. The setup itself is failry generic - big time Dr. Phil self help TV guru Lawrence is guilted home for his parents 50th Anniversary. He's engaged to the newest Survivor winner BIANCA - but is still smitten with the girl that got away back in the day, LUCINDA. Having just gotten back from TWO GODDAMN WEEKS ON KIAWAH ISLAND WITH MY GODDAMN HUSBAND'S NASTY SISTERS -- I COULD RELATE! Anyway, poor Lawrence's self esteem issues all come back at him full force by way of his crazy ass family who are played by some freaking fantastic comedians like MIKE EPPS and MO'NIQUE (but more about them later as they truly steal the show.) This 'frustration comedy' element is pretty hilarious at times but I actually started to get pissed off on Lawrence's behalf as he keeps trying to take the high road everytime his obnoxious cousin (CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER) baits him. Often times these folksy kinds of urban comedies (SOUL FOOD comes to mind) stumble by being too saccharine when they slow down and get emotional or dramatic - the good with this is that it never gets too sentimental, just keeps it light and sweet when touchy relationship issues play out. There's actually a really testy scene in the end where Martin Lawrence is in the final 'competition' against Cedric (on an obstacle course)..and he leaves his son behind just to win. Without giving too much away I'll just say that the fallout from it is an angry confrontation with his Dad (Darth Vader hisself, JAMES EARLE JONES) that is handled fairly straighforward and honestly. And brief - as in 'We get it. Don't play it too hard' - and luckily they don't. So thats the nice, sweet stuff. The real deal is: MO'NIQUE. She comes into the movie with an almost 10 minute rant about her dirty sex crazed bible meetings and this unbelievable description of her micro thong. The energy of the movie definitely picks up when she comes on and the audience was audibly excited by her. They give her like 3 more monologues in the movie and they are RAW and HILARIOUS - laugh out loud. I want her to work more - she may be too much to carry a whole movie but as a supporting character she's genius. Also, MIKE EPPS is pretty good. Again, jolts the movie with a dirtbag, sex crazed attitude that keeps things easy and light. The pacing seems to lag in parts - a few scenes where Lawrence is alone talking to himself felt like treading water - so I would say they could stand to cut it down a bit. But like many smart comedies, you can cut to two mismatched dogs mating or a fart joke and all is forgiven. But can I say? Why must they cast two SUPERMODELS to be the women vying for - of all people - Martin Lawrence?!?! Come on. But this is a cute movie. Hilarious in parts. Mo' Mo'Nique! Best, Julie LaVerne, late of the Cotton Blossom