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Raynelle Slocumbís (Whoopi Goldberg) husband was, in her own words, "mean and surly". When he drops dead over breakfast itís unlikely he will be greatly mourned, but his funeral does bring together the various dysfunctional branches of the Slocumb family. There are the sons Ray Bud (LL Cool J) and Junior (Anthony Anderson) who are immediately at each otherís throats; their wives Lucille (Vivica A. Fox) and Charisse (Jada Pinkett Smith) who each have conflicts with their husbands. Then there is the religiously fervent Aunt Marguerite (Loretta Devine Royce) and her son (Darius McCary), who is religiously devoted to lazing his way through life.

Review by Brad Green:
A couple of facts I read recently about Whoopi Goldberg: she once worked in a mortuary, and she earned the nickname Whoopi from a lack of wind control during her uni years. Believe it or not sheís now appeared in a film that combines funerals and flatulence. But itís not a gross-out comedy. Not even a tragi-comedy. In fact, I donít know what it is, except that itís a mess. Itís not Goldbergís fault: her role, though pivotal is small, and sheís flawless in a flawed film. Actually, the whole cast does well including moonlighting musos LL Cool J, who is convincing as a man trying to stare down his demons by building up the courage to stare death (literally) in the face, and Toni Braxton who is worth staring at for entirely more pleasant reasons. Strangely, neither seems to feature on the excellent gospel and r&b soundtrack, which is a lot more entertaining than the screenplay. Whilst the cast brings credibility to a range of African American stereotypes, itís not enough to overcome the scriptís complete lack of direction. Funerals are fine devices for bringing together people who donít often see each other but probably should. I believe it was the inimitable British PM James Hacker who once observed that a state funeral is the ultimate diplomatic opportunity. And extended families usually have politics to work through too. So the premise is fine, the characters are credible, if only there was something to keep it all together. Being an adaptation of a play, the film is very wordy, but the dialogue is sticky in a way that doesnít even a hold our attention, let alone hold a drama together. Ensemble relationships and hybrid genres require a special cohesion that eludes this film entirely. Along with the husband, its potential dies early and leaves a totally unsatisfactory experience in its wake.

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CAST: LL Cool J, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, Loretta Devine, Anthony Anderson, Whoopi Goldberg

DIRECTOR: Doug McHenry

PRODUCER: Edward Bates, John Morrissey

SCRIPT: David Bottrell, Jessie Jones (screenplay and play)


EDITOR: Richard Halsey

MUSIC: Tyler Bates, Kirk Franklin (songs)


RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 6, 2001 (Sydney only)

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