The Kingdom manages to be both endearing and exasperating. It boasts an uneven story and an all African-American cast. What separates this from other movies with predominantly black casts is that the star level of the actors is pretty high. There are some big names here. LL Cool J., Whoopi Goldberg, Vivica A. Fox, Jada Pinkett Smith, Loretta Devine, and Cedric the Entertainer are the biggest names, with Darius McCrary, Anthony Anderson, and Richard Gant being some of the smaller ones. However, high profile actor does not necessarily mean good actor. The performances are all over the place, mostly because of the script. The Kingdom is an adaptation of David Dean Bottrell and Jessie Jones' play Dearly Departed.
The death of Slocumb family patriarch Bud prompts a family gathering where everybody's issues and conflicts arise. Bud's wife Raynelle (Goldberg, Monkeybone, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) is the quiet, sage-like mother figure. Her eldest son Ray (LL Cool J., Any Given Sunday, Deep Blue Sea) works hard to make a living. He is a recovering alcoholic, and tried unsuccessfully to have a child with his wife Lucille (Fox, Double Take, Teaching Mrs. Tingle). Ray's brother Junior (Anderson, See Spot Run, Exit Wounds) is a failed businessman. His plan to make a parking lot cleaner backfired, leaving his family broke. His wife Charisse (Smith, Bamboozled, Scream 2) discovered that Junior cheated on her. There are other characters, and far too many at that.
The Kingdom veers haphazardly from over-the-top to sentimental, and never achieves any sense of balance. This is LL Cool J's strongest performance to date, mainly because it is not part of some action movie, but the effect loses out to the histrionics his co-stars participate in. Smith and Anderson are the ones mainly responsible for this. Their loud, brash, annoying performances contrast greatly with the subtle ones by Goldberg and LL Cool J. Most of the family gatherings are organized chaos, with one crisis rearing its ugly head after another. The comedy also mixes badly with the serious elements of family and trust. Director Doug McHenry (House Party 2, Jason's Lyric) tries to make everything come together in the end, and it only marginally succeeds.
|Haro Rates It: Not That Good.|
|1 hour, 29 minutes, Rated PG for thematic elements, language, and sensuality.|
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