We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
A brilliant PR piece, Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat is good enough to earn forgiveness for the comedian’s recent projects—even Black Knight. Runteldat opens with a montage of both Lawrence’s high and low moments and a heartfelt voice-over discussing his personal problems, his comedic ambitions, and the film’s primary message: that he’s only human. As nauseating as that sounds, the slickly produced introduction perfectly prepares moviegoers for the following stand-up routine, in which Lawrence nestles his true Hollywood story in between riffs on the uselessness of disciplining a child with timeouts (a better solution: “Whap! Take time out to pick up your teeth!”) and the notion of a non-nonviolent Martin Luther King Jr. (“Fuck that, Coretta, these niggers think I’m soft!”). Throughout, Lawrence is an impressive physical performer, both with his dead-on facial expressions and his constant movement. Particularly effective are his occasional jogs across the stage while he’s talking about his well-publicized run-ins with the law, ostensibly to parallel his racing mind during his not-so-lucid moments. Some bits, such as one in which a dissatisfied husband insults his wife with increasing ferocity after each glass of Courvoisier (“You said you wanted the Halle Berry look. That’s not what Halle Berry looks like!”), run way too long and needlessly turn toward misogyny. But the missteps are few in this mostly quick-moving monologue: Lawrence’s exceptional white-dude impressions and fervent pleas to live life “’til the wheels fall off” will give you newfound sympathy for comedy’s bad boy. —Tricia Olszewski