Making the Grades
"Mean and sourly" is how Raynelle Slocumb (Whoopie Goldberg) describes her not so dearly departed husband. Now that his Kingdom's Come, all that remains for the family to do is give Bud a proper burial. As the clan gathers, bringing their emotional baggage along, it takes no time before the insults, fists, and handbags begin to fly.
The deceased's oldest son Ray Bud (LL Cool J) is a recovering alcoholic who seriously contemplates going back to the bottle when his wife announces she has offered to house his younger brother Junior (Anthony Anderson) and his unruly, squabbling family while they attend the funeral. As luck would have it, things are worse than usual in Junior's life. Not only is he on the brink of bankruptcy, but he is also facing the wrath of his wife who has just discovered his infidelity.
Then there are the extended relations. For years the late Mr. Slocumb's bible-thumping sister (Loretta Devine) has been trying to save his immortal soul. Hoping this time of sorrow will provide a spiritual reawakening among her kin, she arrives with her party-loving, womanizing son in tow.
Written as a comedy, the script makes light of such things as religion, adultery, verbal abuse, and domestic disputes. While the characters' overreactions to some of the depicted situations are humorous, many won't be laughing in the scene where an angry man, driving a car, pulls a gun on his taunting wife and threatens to kill her and then kill himself. Witnessing the whole argument, the couple's young children cower in the back seat.
Other concerns for parents will be the film's liberal use of language and the many sexual elements within the script. Although these are generally non-explicit, they are key to the character's motivations.
The movie preaches family ties, forgiveness, and the importance of faith, along with a catchy inspirational gospel/rap soundtrack (which should appeal to many young people). Unfortunately these redeeming ingredients are barely survived by the overly optimistic and sentimental ending required to move this dysfunctional family out of Bud Slocumb's damaging shadow.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Kingdom Come.
Movies often present simple solutions to complex problems, thanks to their use of time compression and the writer’s ability to control the outcome of the story. If the Slocumbs were real people struggling with the problems depicted here, what kinds of consequences would you expect to see? How long do you think it would take for them to resolve some of these issues?