The Cookout

on September 03, 2004 by Paul Clinton
For most of its rambling running time, the low-flame comedy "The Cookout" follows Todd Anderson (songwriter and actor Storm P), who is chosen as the top pick in the NBA draft and signs a $30 million contract with the New Jersey Nets. He showers his family with gifts, gets hooked by a gold-digging cutie (Meagan Good) and buys a mansion in a gated community. Mom Lady Em (Jenifer Lewis) wrings her hands about her son's fast-paced lifestyle change, while patriarch JoJo Anderson (Frankie Faison) grins for the camera crews in his home.

The comic embers briefly flicker as Anderson's family, friends and neighbors gather for the titular cookout. Those include an opportunistic pal (Ja Rule), two backwoods cousins (described as "a little country"), a childhood friend-turned-hottie (Eve), a wannabe lawyer (Tim Meadows), a slovenly single mother (Marci Reed) and an uppity interracial couple (Danny Glover and Farrah Fawcett).

With a group script from three writers and input from producer Queen Latifah (who shows up in an extended cameo as a dopey, too-earnest security guard), this "Barbershop" rehash also serves up leftovers from the "Friday" series. Any promise the barbecue scenes had--think the "Krazy Eyez Killa" episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm"--is swallowed up in morass. First-time director Lance Rivera does admirably keep the raucous gross-out humor to a minimum. Starring Storm P, Ja Rule, Jenifer Lewis and Queen Latifah. Directed by Lance Rivera. Written by Ramsey Gbelawoe, Jeffrey B. Holmes and Laurie B. Turner. Produced by Shakim Compere, Darryl French and Queen Latifah. A Lions Gate release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for drug content, sexual references and language. Running time: 88 min

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