Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.
This family has issues! When mean and surly Bud Slocumb keels over at breakfast, his family gathers for the wake and funeral: long-suffering widow Raynelle, unemployed son Junior who's cheating on his wife Charisse, son Ray Bud who holds a job and has a loving wife, Lucille, but struggles with alcoholism and with their difficulty having children. There's younger daughter Delightful, who constantly eats; religious Aunt Marguerite and her wayward son Royce; and, there's Juanita, their wealthy cousin's wife. They all descend on the town of Lula, struggle to say something nice about Bud, and face the challenge of sorting out their relationships with the living. Written by
There is only one thing wrong with "Kingdom Come": not enough people are going to see it, simply in the mistaken belief that this is a "black" film, which it is not. The film is universal, both in theme and message. It likewise deserves to be universal in its appeal.
The plotline is simple: a "mean and surly" man (widow Whoopi Goldberg's description of him) dies suddenly, leaving the disparate members of his family to struggle with their feelings for him -- and for each other -- as they prepare for his funeral. How they each manage to reconcile their feelings for him -- and, in some cases, reconcile with each other -- is at the heart of the film. And "Kingdom Come" has PLENTY of heart, make no mistake. That heart rings through loud and clear, amazingly enough, in a film that can be outrageously hilarious while simultaneously remaining touching and true.
Yes, all the characters are Afro-American. And yes, the settings, the surrounding culture and the conventions are all Afro-American (by the way, the writers indulge in some sly -- but on the whole, affectionate -- digs at that culture and conventions). More importantly, however, the underlying emotions and motivations have nothing to do with ethnicity. These are people, nothing more and nothing less, coping or at least learning to cope with a traumatic time in their lives. How do they achieve this? How does anyone? Certainly not by being black or white or this or that, but by . . . growing.
And grow these characters do, each of them, propelled by a cast that is universally both standout and stand-up, in a film that is fully as wise as it is wild. The gospel number at the end is, perhaps, a bit over the top in its implausibility, and maybe in real life not all of the characters will manage to accomplish all the goals that the film implies, but what of it? Perhaps, in the end, what redeems us as a species are our aspirations, rather than our achievements. That, too, is universal.
Just like this film.
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