Comedian/actor Martin Lawrence's last concert film, 1994's "You So Crazy," was brash and foul--Lenny Bruce without the intellect or Richard Pryor without the personal pain. The performance was raunchy, misogynistic and homophobic, and the material was not particularly insightful. It may or may not have been funny, depending on your point of view, but it was the epitome of Lawrence. Nearly a decade on, the actor has had a successful television and film career, starring in several hit films, from "Bad Boys" to "Big Momma's House." He's also had a number of interesting personal events, including a few run-ins with the law, and exercising himself into a coma while preparing for a role. With "Runteldat," he attempts to explain himself. Though Lawrence is never apologetic, he does engage in a sort of culling of sympathy from his live audiences as he weaves his way from standard fare toward more personal perspectives. There is all of the kinetic energy and braggadocio he is famous for, and his language has not demonstrably matured, but, at age 36 and with two daughters, his point of view has shifted...slightly. A story about being in the delivery room while a child is being born is simultaneously juvenile and pithy. Another anecdote, relayed from the POV of a drunken husband coming home late, is only juvenile. The entire show is like that: hit and miss--which has been the case for most of Lawrence's standup career. From his days as the host of "Def Comedy Jam," Lawrence's comedy has always been a matter of throwing it all at the audience and seeing what's funny. Here, a slightly confessional tone makes things a bit more interesting, but he doesn't go deep enough. Perhaps in another decade he'll tell us something about the truest Martin Lawrence. There may be an interesting guy in there somewhere. Maybe.
Starring Martin Lawrence
Directed by David Raynr
Written by Martin Lawrence
Produced by Michael Hubbard and Beth Hubbard
A Paramount release. Comedy concert film.
Rated R for strong crude sexual dialogue and pervasive language
Running time: 100 min