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'Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat'

Martin Lawrence lets it all hang out in 'Runteldat'

Friday, August 02, 2002

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Let Robin Williams have HBO.

'Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat'

RATING: R for strong crude sexual dialogue and pervasive language.

STARRING: Martin Lawrence

DIRECTOR: David Raynr

WEB SITE: www.martin



Martin Lawrence wants to cast a bigger -- and broader -- net with his concert film, "Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat," arriving in theaters today. And while he obviously plays to his African-American fans with stories about how whites and blacks are treated differently on TV's "Cops," his observations about anthrax scares, aging, childbirth, weddings, marriage and how alcohol can loosen the tongue cut across racial lines.

Imitating a husband who's had one or three too many glasses of Courvoisier, Lawrence asks the invisible wife, "When you gonna grow your hair back? You told me you were getting the Halle Berry look. Halle Berry don't look like that."

Filmed during a pair of performances at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., in late January, the movie shows Lawrence at his best and worst. It allows him to use his obvious talents for acting, physical comedy, storytelling, mimicry, accents and ad-libbing but it also gives him a license for R-rated language and subject matter.

He uses profanity the way so many comedians do -- as an automatic crutch and laugh-getter, not that a preview audience seemed to mind in the slightest. Not to sound like the morals police, any more than I already do, but this is not material for children or for adults who can't handle material or language so blue it's nearly black.

In addition to simply serving as entertainment, the concert ends up being part inspiration ("No one is immune to the trials and tribulations of life" is his mantra), part comic retelling of reversals in his life and part payback. "I gotta come out, tell my own story. I ain't waiting for E! True Hollywood Story," he says.

Asking if there are any critics in the house, he calls them scum. Nothing like insulting the people reviewing your show in the first 10 minutes, although I'd like to believe he's confusing critics with the tabloid press which jumped all over his 1996 arrest after being found disoriented and screaming (and high) in the middle of a busy L.A. intersection and 1999 collapse while jogging in the summer heat.

He is not afraid to reveal even the most personal and embarrassing details about his hospital stay after the 107-degree temperature nearly killed him and his career. Most of them cannot be repeated here, but they have to do with Seinfeld-esque shrinkage, caused by a bed of ice, and being forced to summon a pretty and initially sympathetic nurse when he knocked over the container collecting his urine.

Lawrence, prowling an empty stage and occasionally wiping his sweat-beaded face with a towel or sipping water, concludes that segment with a reminder, "We fall down, but we get up" and then segues into some of his raunchiest material of the concert having to do with sex.

I thought he should have quit on the inspirational note and it was enough already, but he went for a down and dirty routine that had some of the men in the audience literally jumping out of their seats. Take that, critics.

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