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  Film Reviews: Only Because He Asked: Martin Lawrence RunTelDat  

Thursday, August 1
Only Because He Asked: Martin Lawrence RunTelDat
Martin Lawrence’s concert film RunTelDat, opens with a brief film outlining his career. Unfortunately, his direction at the onset of his set gave explicit instructions to critics: “if you have to write about something, write about my balls.” Lawrence doesn’t give much to go on, as his beige patchwork leather pseudo-kung fu tunic leaves far too much to the imagination. There is a point at which he alludes to his having salty balls, but I don’t suppose that is what Lawrence meant. Not being much of a nut-sack gal per se, I shall say what I say to all men that ask me to comment on their balls: they’re perfectly fine.

RunTelDat alludes to Lawrence’s battles with our on-going tabloid media. An introductory film covers the accusations of drug use, his arrests and a three-day coma. In Lawrence’s world, the media is a villain, refusing to acknowledge the positive aspects of his life – his wish is that they would take those instances and “Run Tel Dat.” This is footage from a late 2001 concert run designed to be a personal confession a la Richard Pryor.

Lawrence spends a good portion of the beginning of the film on 9-11 observations that are already dated. Even sadder, classic material regarding the Rodney King beatings have been eclipsed by recent events. This is the reason why so few concert films are actually done – much of the material won’t be fresh enough to make out of editing. Lawrence also drags out the typical relationship humor, spending too much of his set on a drunken character who is too revealing towards his wife.

These diversions are what we sit through when Lawrence begins to talk about his experiences with fame, divorce and drug abuse. His humor is self-effacing and honest, and it is here where we see the talent that Lawrence holds for story telling. His stories are not pretty, and he holds himself largely accountable for even the worst details. All the while, Lawrence explains how he pulled himself out and decided that life was about “riding it until the wheels fall off.” Unfortunately, Lawrence spends too much time in the safety of mundane stand-up and not enough giving us something to “run tel dat” about.

The Usual:

What It’s Worth: Dollar-theater fare.

Main Reason To See This Film: As mentioned before, Lawrence is at his best when he is talking about his life.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: His outfit. Really, baggy leather, patches and a sequined version of his RunTelDat logo? Lawrence did something really, really bad to his clothing designer. If he is his own designer, he has some serious self-hatred issues.

Annoying Theater Goer: Any number of the dozen or so individuals around us that were so important that they had to take cell phone calls during the movie. Okay, everyone might have been an emergency worker or some type of super-spy. But here’s my thing – if you get a call and DON’T leave, there’s only one of two reasons. First, the people that call you are complete morons and can’t make a single move without checking with you. Secondly, the urgent issue was able to wait until after the movie. Either way, you should know this by now and know not to answer.

Rating: R

Nudity: No (otherwise, I would have had more to go on).

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