leave a comment --Stephen Miller
No rite of passage reopens family wounds like a good old funeral (except perhaps a wedding). As arrangements for the main event are made, family grudges are slugged out in one-on-ones and tag team matches. This afro-centric dramedy from veteran producer/director Doug McHenry revolves around the dysfunctional Slocombs, who specialize in below-the-belt punches but occasional score with verbal jabs and visual gags. After family patriarch Woodrow Slocumb succumbs to a stroke, his survivors gather at the small town homestead to prepare for "Daddy Bud's" wake and funeral under the watchful eye of Reverend Hooker (Cedric the Entertainer). The feuding family includes Daddy Bud's scripture-quoting sister Marguerite (Loretta Devine); ne'er-do-well nephew Royce (Darius McCrary); elder son Ray Bud (LL Cool J), a reformed hard-drinker and wild child kept in line by his loving wife Lucille (Vivica A. Fox), the self-appointed family peacekeeper; and younger son Junior (Anthony Anderson), a hapless philanderer accompanied by his shrewish spouse, Charisse (Jada Pinkett Smith). The family assembles to offer support (if little comfort) to widow Raynelle, played with Jackie Kennedy-stoicism by Whoopi Goldberg. Heaven help the Slocombs, and us it looks as though they may not make it through the next few days without using the funeral parlor's family plan. Rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J (whose natural screen charisma and talent are truly impressive) and his co-stars, Devine and Goldberg, fare better than their castmates, all of whom deserve stronger material than screenwriters David Dean Bottrell and Jessie Jones's predictable, forgiveness-themed script provides. But the movie harbors one very pleasant surprise: chanteuse Toni Braxton, making her feature film debut as Juanita, a snobbish Slocumb relative, delivers a scene-stealing turn.