Lawrence's humor keeps its edge

Comic takes on his critics in film rife with hilarity

August 02, 2002|By Kevin Thomas | Kevin Thomas,SPECIAL TO THE SUN



Martin Lawrence is a no-holds-barred stand-up comedian who gets away with the most graphic language because he is so funny and because he makes himself the object of so much of his humor.

Runteldat comes from his demand: "Stop the gossip. I'm still here - run tell that!"

Lawrence was involved in some well-publicized incidents several years ago that have left him with considerable resentment toward the media and a desire to tell his side. But Lawrence is too shrewd a showman to lead with them, so he opens with his views on a wide range of topics. He's all for respect for elders and living life to the fullest but gets hilariously down and dirty when it comes to sex, suggesting among more unprintable advice that in relationships couples would be well-advised to take a "test drive."

After a barrage of jokes and opinions, Lawrence gets to the nitty-gritty. In 1996, Lawrence caused a ruckus when he walked into traffic at a busy Los Angeles intersection and started yelling. He was arrested and later hospitalized for dehydration and exhaustion. After beginning an explanation that has him caught in a traffic signal change while rushing to get take-out food, he stops abruptly and admits he was high, incredibly high, on unbelievably strong marijuana, which he says he has given up. It didn't help that he was packing a pistol.

The ultimately far scarier incident occurred three years later when severe heat exhaustion struck him after strenuous jogging, leaving him in a coma for three days. Lawrence conveys eloquently the shock his loved ones experienced and his own surprise once he regained consciousness. He details the indignities of his recovery with outrageous humor as well as reverent gratitude toward a kindly nurse.

It seems Lawrence's down periods have left him wiser but without dulling the sharp edges of his humor.

Kevin Thomas is a movie critic for the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat

Starring Martin Lawrence

Directed by David Raynr

Released by Paramount

Time 104 minutes

Rated R (graphic language)

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