[box cover]

Kingdom Come

It's easy to see why Kingdom Come came and went so quickly in theaters. Full of caterwauling "humor" and mostly one-note characters, the big-screen adaptation of David Dean Bottrell and Jessie Jones's play Dearly Departed is on par with the kind of throwaway TV movies that have been clogging the major networks during sweeps months for the last few years (Bella Mafia, anyone?). Packed with recognizable stars but lacking a strong script and, for the most part, thoughtful performances, Kingdom Come feels long at 90 minutes and never quite tickles the audience's funnybone or engages their sympathies. Which is particularly odd, considering that the story is all about death. When "mean and surly" Bud Slocumb kicks off at the beginning of the movie, his hardly grief-stricken widow Rayelle (Whoopi Goldberg) calmly gathers the family together to bury him and say goodbye. The clan includes shrill sister-in-law Marguerite (Loretta Devine) and her slacker son Royce (Darius McCrary of TV's Family Matters), failed businessman Bud Jr. (Anthony Anderson) and his nagging wife Charisse (Jada Pinkett Smith), and simmering second son Ray Bud (LL Cool J) and his people-pleasing wife Lucille (Vivica A. Fox). Toni Braxton, Richard Gant, and Cedric the Entertainer also have small parts to play as brothers clash, affairs are discovered, and dirty laundry is aired. Interestingly, it's LL Cool J who gives the movie's best performance: His Ray Bud is a genuinely conflicted character with real human depth. But when he's surrounded by the constantly shrieking characters played by Pinkett Smith and Devine — their hysterics, meant to provide comic relief, are more headache-inducing than funny, and it's hard to focus on his acting. Maybe next time he does a movie he'll opt for something a little less frantic. As for Goldberg, who apparently was the driving force behind getting Kingdom Come made, she should stick to Hollywood Squares until she finds material that's less clichéd and has more to offer than a few fart jokes. Kingdom Come looks and sound fine on Fox's DVD — the anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is strong, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is crisp (other audio options include English Dolby surround and English and Spanish subtitles), and it comes with a decent set of extras. In addition to a four-minute featurette (which focuses on the movie's soundtrack) and a rather prim, straightforward commentary by director Doug McHenry, there's a music video for Kirk Franklin's "Thank You," the original trailer, and four TV spots. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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