Combustible Celluloid
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With: Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Eric Stoltz, Jon Polito, John Leguizamo
Written by: Barry W. Blaustein, Danny Jacobson, Don Rhymer, David Sheffield
Directed by: John Schultz
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some innuendo and rude humor
Running Time: 85
Date: 03/18/2013

The Honeymooners (2005)

0 Stars

Sitcom Cliche Comes Full Circle

By Rob Blackwelder, SPLICEDwire

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The In the 1950s, "The Honeymooners" helped establish the most rancid cliché in American comedy -- the irresponsible husband with the long-suffering, much smarter wife who always forgives him for being a selfish jackass.

Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows pulled it off because 1) they gave a certain tenacious chemistry to their characters' head-butting marriage, 2) Gleason had a gift for finding humor and humanity in unsympathetic roles, and 3) it was a simpler time, when idiotic get-rich-quick schemes weren't quite such a tiresome excuse for cheap laughs.

But none of this is true of the big-screen remake starring Cedric the Entertainer as conniving New York City bus driver Ralph Kramden, who spends the whole movie lying to his waitress wife Alice (Gabrielle Union) while emptying their bank account to buy an antique train car (he thinks fitting it with tires is enough to create a money-making tour bus) or to race a stray greyhound at the local track.

Cedric may split sides with his stand-up routines and politically incorrect topical rants in the Barbershop movies, but here he's sleepwalking through a routine script full of uninspired exposition ("All we need is $20,000 for the down payment..."), stereotypical characters (loud-mouthed mother-in-law), shopworn physical gags (cayenne pepper ends up in someone's food), contrived conflicts (Ralph has a falling out with Ed, his dim-witted plumber best pal played by half-stoned Mike Epps), pop culture references ("You're just a regular UPN sitcom, ain't 'cha, Alice?"), lucky coincidences, and insultingly easy resolutions to all life's problems.

Forgiveness for any slight is as easy as Ed's wife telling Alice, "You gotta admit, your man is tryin'." That might have been plausible if Cedric and Union had any romantic spark to give their marriage credibility, but these Kramdens are just another fat sitcom loser who never changes and his young, gorgeous, savvy wife who apparently doesn't have the self-respect to dump the schmuck.

Directed on auto-pilot by John Schultz ( Like Mike, Drive Me Crazy), this Honeymooners is the mind-numbing, half-hearted culmination of every comedy of the last 50 years that considered its ending a happy one when a woman who deserves better takes back a insincere man who has sabotaged the relationship then apologized, but hasn't changed.

The movie's only sparkle comes from a brief nutzo performance by John Leguizamo as a scam-artist dog trainer who helps Ralph and Ed get their greyhound entered into a race that leads to the movie's climax.

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