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Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat

Martin Lawrence is a funny, funny guy — there's no doubt about that. The problem for him is that, all too often, the movie industry has not been the best fit for his energetic talent as a comedian. Lawrence is a man who really belongs on the stage, with just a spotlight and a microphone and an audience ready to have fun with his raunchy humor. And there's scarcely better proof than his second live-concert film, Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat, which features nearly two hours of free-form monologue recorded in Washington, D.C. The former host of "Def Comedy Jam" takes the time to run through a number of different topics — sex, relationships, marriage, divorce, childbirth, child-rearing, drinking, drugs, aging, movie critics, and his own personal catharsis after Sept. 11, 2001 (Lawrence actually is deft enough to get laughs from his 9/11 observations, particularly on newfound cooperation between blacks and whites in America). However, the Runteldat concert (i.e., "Run and tell that") also is meant to be Lawrence's own personal confessional after a series of high-publicity incidents — two arrests, followed by a hospital stay after passing out from jogging in extreme heat — which elevates the material from mere observational humor to something far more personal, and not unlike Richard Pryor's mercurial comedy after his own battles with substance abuse. At times, one gets the feeling that Lawrence is protesting a bit too much — a five-minute opening video details his arrests, with Lawrence placing himself almost as an innocent bystander in his own life, constantly hounded by the media. However, when his monologue veers towards the arrests, the drugs, and his recovery from a deadly, heat-induced coma, it's remarkably frank and self-critical, and the comic's impression of a young judge who chews him out and tells him he's wasting his life is funny and touching. However, be forewarned — Lawrence is every bit as scatological as Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, so folks who aren't prepared to endure a lot of four-letter words and some graphic discussions about sex (and other bodily functions) should stay away. Everybody else can look forward to the next concert film from Lawrence, who manages to prove that long-form, large-venue standup isn't dead just yet. Paramount's DVD release of Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat offers a clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 Surround. Features include a commentary with director David Raynr, producer Michael Hubbard, and executive producer Robert Lawrence; the deleted segment "Boxing" (5 min.); the featurette "Backstage Pass," with a look at Lawrence's prep at the Comedy Store (13 min.); and the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.

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