Tiffany J. (singemama2010) from MANASSAS PARK, VA Reviewed on 1/17/2014...
It was good could had been better.
Coming Home and Facing Truths in a Laugh-Fueled, Southern-Fr
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 11/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I got the chance to see a rough cut of writer/director/actor Maurice Jamal's film last year during the 2006 San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. As an openly gay black man, he lends a particularly unique and contemporary perspective on the Prodigal Son parable with this tale of a class-conscious New York-based magazine writer whose discovery of a ten-year old son leads him back to the family he left behind years ago in his hometown of Paris, Georgia. Those who have seen Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown or Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy will recognize the fish-out-of-water comedy that dominates the movie's first half. However, the movie gradually congeals into a more resonant drama of acceptance and forgiveness.
Despite his bare-bones production budget and a sometimes too facile approach to easy laughs, Jamal has a keen eye for his Deep South setting and especially his characters that manage to sidestep stereotypical treatment. What I particularly like about the family interactions is how Jamal chooses to emphasize the son's elitism that has alienated the family, not as much his sexual orientation. Rockmond Dunbar brings a sympathetic core to the uptight son, Patrick in his current life but Sheldon to his family. However, it's Loretta Devine who shines as his mother Evelyn, a hardened, alcoholic washerwoman who holds her own secrets and rails against her son with fervor. She seizes a great moment as she delivers a near-soliloquy at the dinner table near the end. With her foghorn, female-impersonator delivery, veteran scene-stealer Jenifer Lewis plays judgmental Aunt Lettuce with her usual gusto and provides the film's biggest laughs.
Most of the cast is amusingly over-the-top - Terri J. Vaughn's supportive sister Jackie, Filipino comedian Alec Mapa as the overzealous metrosexual friend, Sommore's throaty turn as the sassy daughter-in-law, and Jamal's own performance as Sheldon's straight, dim-bulb brother who runs the local butcher shop. The one major fly in the ointment is Joey Costello, who comes across far too flighty and naïve as Patrick's partner Ryan. The film has a too-pat though forgivable ending, but Jamal shows himself to be a most idiosyncratic comedy talent."
Jennifer Lewis & Loretta Devine----Lord, Give Me More!
Tom O'Leary | Los Angeles, California | 02/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jennifer Lewis & Loretta Devine---what more could a moviegoer ask for? These two stellar talents wring more humor and pathos out of a line of dialogue than Laurence Olivier in his prime.
This movie is not the greatest story ever told. And it won't be taking home a busload of Oscars. But there are moments of real truth and poignance and compassion here. And the acting---though over the top---is an absolute delight. Rockmond Dunbar is sexy and subtle and moving. The entire cast deserve a huge Bravo.
But the movie belongs to Jennifer Lewis and Loretta Devine. They should be charged with grand larceny, because they steal every scene."
"The Wedding Banquet" for us Black folks!
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 02/23/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"In both of these movies, a gay man of color has to deal with his family face-to-face after a long time. In both, they have white lovers who are more obvious than they. In both, a child is involved. Both have big family functions where tension rises. In both, at least one parent becomes or admits to accepting their son's sexual orientation. The role that language plays in "Wedding Banquet" is played by socioeconomic class here.
There are two small differences. In this, the gay man of color goes to his family's world whereas in "The Wedding Banquet" the parents come to their son's world. Here, there are only Black folk on the cover whereas Mitchell is on the cover with the Chinese characters, if I remember correctly. This must do with target audiences. This movie is trying to bring in Black viewers without spilling the beans. "Wedding Banquet" attempted to attract non-Chinese viewers who might assume it's "just Chinese" otherwise.
Though Loretta Devine's character says, "This ain't Soul Food!", this film's penultimate scene is clearly taken from that film."
Good Clean Family Fun!! Hillariously Funny!! But Also Heartw
Daquan13 | East Boston, MA. | 04/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very funny movie that gets even funnier as it progresses!! Hold onto your sides, as you'll be laughing non-stop!!! Sports an elite all-star cast.
Magazine writer Patrick Sheldon (Rockmond Dumbar) who is gay, is a very successful businessman, lives in the Big Apple, has a very high-paying job, a luxurious penthouse-style apt and a very caring and loving boyfriend, just couln't ask for anything more or less.
That is until one evening during a party, a little boy named Gabriel (played by Aaron Grady Shaw from the HBO series In Treatment) shows up uannounced, knocks on his door, introduses himself and then tells Patrick that he's his son. The rug is snatched out from under him.
In an effort to get to the root of this surprise visit by Gabriel, Patrick then takes the boy back with him back to his hometown of Paris, Georgia where he tries to unravel the mystery to find out just how he happens to suddenly have a child. Once there, he finds out that two worlds seem to collide with each other, as one shocking revelation after another is revealed!
Patrick who is often refered to as his birth name of Sheldon, he steadfastly and sternly demands to be called Patrick, visits and stays with his mom (Loretta Devine) while trying to find out just how Gabriel is his child. It appears that 10 years ago according to his mom (that's how long Patrick was in New York), Patrick had an affair with a promiscuous overweight girl, Christine, who is now deceased and that's how Gabriel came into existence.
While there, his partner / boyfriend Ryan (played by newcomer Joey Costello) happens to show up from New York unannounced (Baby, what's going on here?).(Mom: Baby?!! Baby?!!!) Well, the mud hits the fan when Pat's mom learns the real truth about her son being gay! She goes bonkers wondering why and where did she fail him, acting like she just wants to knock him out!
Enter Patrick's brother Eugine (played by Maurice Jamal who also wrote, produced and directed the film), who is insanely jealous of Patrick, stereotypes and puts him down constantly, mainly because of his sexual preference. But he openly wishes that he had Patrick's son. He and his wife have been trying to have a child, but they can't. Patrick also has a nosey snobbish snotty-nosed self-centered aunt (Jennifer Lewis from Cookout)) who just can't seem to stop poking her nose in the family's pesonal affairs and is always stirring up trouble and controversy!
Patrick also has an overweight smirky-comment-spewing 11-year-old cousin, Pudge who doesn't let Patrick get a word in edgewise and flatly insists that she has to get up and pratice very early in the morning for her dancing lessons, playing outlandishly loud music and making Patrick's sleeping late impossible. Ryan later has a conversation with her while Patrick's mom eavesdrops. She begins to slowly rethink things about her son.
When he was a little boy, Patrick used to keep a diary that he read by the lake, which his brother Eugene uased to ridicule & embarass him about, and his mother use to yell at and scold him about back then and snatched it from him and keeps it hidden from him and reads it herself now and then. Gabriel has started doing the same thing.
At church and at a cookout, even more shocking secrets are reveled as Patrick and his lover accidentally reveal their love affair over the PA system! The crowd gasps in horror and the aunt faints ("Oh Lord! Gay! I knew about it, but not in my family. Not in my family. Homosexual).
Meanwhile, Patrick and Gabriel try to work out their arguments and diffences. Gabriel overhears a very disturbing argument between Patrick and his mom, and becomes very upset with his dad, giving him the cold shoulder and tuning him out of his life! But later, they both come to terms with the fact that they still love and want to be with each other. Touching! Patrick eventually accepts Gabriel has his child, and the two are now getting along together and are inseparable.
Then, just when one would think that all of the dirty laundry has been washed and hung out to dry, Patrick's aunt who sits down with the family for a Sunday Dinner, drops another bombshell and opens up another can of worms and then the family is fighting all over again, as personal insults begin to fly across the room!! Mom is a heavy smoker and an alcoholic, as she likes to smoke, drink and get drunk. Patrick and Ryan announce that they, along with Gabriel, are moving out and into their own apt. Mom then accepts Patrick and his lover as part of the family.
The whole family them comes together and buries the hatchett. A very happy ending.
Continue the education
D. Cutler | Baltimore, MD | 06/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I really enjoyed the movie. The storyline was great. The actors were wonderful ("Kudos" to Loretta Devine). It made me really proud to know that Black writers/producers could present a movie, dealing with gay life relationships, in a positive family oriented atmosphere. I was also honored that the movie showed that gay families CAN and DO provide their children with loving homes and positive family structure. THANKS to ALL and please continue to educate others!"