Movie Reviews: Kingdom Come
   
 



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Studio:
     Fox (90 minutes)
Plot:
     When the family patriarch passes away, the members of a large and divided family must travel home to the South for his funeral.
Cast:
     LL Cool J, Whoopi Goldberg, Jada Pinkett Smith, Loretta Devine, Vivica A Fox
Rating:
     PG
Bottom Line:
     **

Coverage:

   Kingdom Come is such a light and breezy comedy, it could easily blow off the screen.
   Based upon David Bottrell and Jessie Jones’ hilarious play Dearly Departed, Whoopi Goldberg plays Raynelle Slocumb, the head of the Slocumb clan. The huge, divided group suddenly find themselves thrown together to settle family's affairs after patriarch Woodrow "Bud" Slocumb (Raynelle’s husband) keels over at the breakfast table one morning.
   Raynelle becomes the sober anchor of the character-driven family which includes her bumbling son (Anthony Anderson) and his nagging wife (Jada Pinkett Smith), their three children, a scripture-spouting sister-in-law (Loretta Divine) and her hard-living son (Darius McCrary).
   Goldberg, whose usually outgoing screen persona is subdued, remains a composed figure amongst the comedic boil of outrageous stars. Although the star of Hollywood Squares has a relatively small part, she still manages to steal every scene she’s in.
   "Raynelle is a very laid-back character in the movie, which I was very thrilled about doing," Goldberg told Blackflix.com. "I worked a couple of weeks and I went home. I’m lazy."
   Goldberg said that she was happy to have the work, but she no longer has to do films with long, grinding schedules – unless she wants to. At the moment, Hollywood Squares and cameo appearances are her forte.
   "It was nice for me to see all those young folks running amuck and doing what they had to do to make the movie work," said Goldberg, who was one of the first actors to sign up to star in the film last spring.
   "My role made me laugh," she said. "After all, there’s the idea of someone dropping dead at the table, and the family coming together to deal with it. It was amusing to me."
   Although Raynelle’s youngest son, Junior, is a ne’er-do-well, her oldest, Ray Bud (LL Cool J), and his wife Lucille (Vivica A. Fox) are the stable and dependable couple in the family.
   However, Ray Bud’s usual calm and collective nature is tested during the course of the funeral. He finds himself breaking loose emotionally and spiritually because he has to come to terms with the fact that he didn’t have a strong relationship with his late father.
   Director Doug McHenry (Krush Groove and New Jack City) does an excellent job of directing the high-speed traffic so that no one gets hurt.
   Kingdom Come is one of those rare lighthearted films that successfully deals with death and still manages to pull at the heart strings. Almost everyone can identify with one of its richly developed characters that show what happens when relatives who suffer from an excess of personality get together.
   "Well, it’s about a family that maybe we haven’t seen before," Goldberg said. "That’s why I thought would be interesting. Plus, I knew they would ‘green light’ it if I did it – which is kind of a nice place to be."
   Goldberg said the highlight of the film for her was actress Loretta Divine (Waiting to Exhale), who she says is one of the truly unsung comedians of our time. Devine plays a sanctimonious, full-volume mama.
   "People have no idea what she is capable of," Goldberg said. "She made me laugh, and that’s hard – because I’m crabby. I decided when I hit 45 I had the right to be crabby."
   Goldberg said her favorite scene was when Loretta Divine snapped a picture of her brother Woodrow "Bud" Slocumb laying in the casket.
   "Loretta says, ‘They got you looking like a $2 ’ho’,’" Goldberg said. "That scene took the longest to shoot because I could not keep a straight face. And then there’s a grieving Jada Pinkett-Smith falling out and into the coffin. It was great to watch other people fly. Hopefully the film will get the support that it needs."
   Goldberg said she’s been to her share of over-the-top funerals.
   "Italians and Blacks go crazy at funerals," Goldberg said. "It’s a cultural thing."
   Kingdom Come is another in the new genre of comedic/romantic character driven African-American films, Waiting To Exhale, The Wood and recently The Brothers, whose humanity doesn’t ring a false note and should appeal to a large crossover audience.
   "I think the film will do well because I don’t have any particular bond with anyone except human beings," Goldberg said. "Basically we all have the same fundamental beliefs."

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