Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat

Martin Lawrence returns to his roots in Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat, a concert documentary film filmed in Washington, D.C. While the film is lacking in many respects, it is a step up from his acting career (recent 'highlights' include Black Knight and What's the Worst That Could Happen?). As an actor, he does lame impressions and gives his own brand of outrageous comedy within the confines of a movie. He does much of the same thing as a stand-up comic, although this time he is able to be more expressive and outrageous. There is no script or PG-13 rating hampering his unique style of comedy. Lawrence is crude, sometimes excessively so, and draws an immediate comparison to Richard Pryor. The difference is that Pryor was excessively crude and funny at the same time.

Most of Martin Lawrence Live is a jumbled mess. "Runteldat" is Lawrence-speak for "run tell that," a defiant expression of individuality and self-assertion. He veers haphazardly from a number of seemingly random topics, none of which are any different than any routine seen in any comedy club. Lawrence's views on marriage and sex never elicit anything more than yawns, and it's fascinating watching him randomly segue from one topic to another. It takes over an hour for him to get to what people want to hear, his experiences over the past couple years. Lawrence was arrested for possessing a handgun and acting strangely in the middle of a Los Angeles intersection, then a couple years later he collapsed from heat exhaustion while jogging and was in a coma for three days. He gives his own amusing twist on what happened, but it is too little too late.

Lawrence and director David Raynr (Whatever It Takes, Trippin') wallow in a feeling of self-importance. Lawrence enters in a grandiose fashion, after a self-congratulatory video. He vilifies reporters that fail to seek out the truth, but oddly shows fake clips of newscasts about his troubles. Lawrence is a capable performer who knows how to stoke a crowd. He has a decent sense of timing, good skills at imitation, and an endless supply of energy. The problem is he is preaching to a converted crowd. The people in the audience laugh because they like Martin Lawrence and because he is saying things that are so far out there. Not because he is funny. One gets the feels that this audience will laugh at whatever he says.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 44 minutes, Rated R for strong crude sexual dialogue and perverse language.

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