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||IMDB Rating: 6.3/10 from PG-13 votes
||Release: 15 Jul 2006 /
||Genre: Comedy, Drama
||Director: Maurice Jamal,
||Stars: Jenifer Lewis, Loretta Devine, Rockmond Dunbar, Terri J. Vaughn
||Synopsis: A modern-day prodigal son story with a twist. It follows Patrick, a magazine writer, who seems to have the perfect life, until one day, there is a knock at the door. On the other side stands a secret that brings him face to face with the traditional southern family he hasn't seen in over 10 years.
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I got the chance to see a rough cut of writer/director/actor Malcolm
Jamal's film at the Castro Theatre during the 2006 San Francisco Gay &
Lesbian Film Festival. As an openly gay black man, he lends a
particularly unique and contemporary perspective on the Prodigal Son
parable with this tale of a class-conscious New York-based magazine
writer whose discovery of a ten-year old son leads him back to the
family he left behind years ago in his hometown of Paris, Georgia.
Those who have seen Cameron Crowe's "Elizabethtown" or Harvey
Fierstein's "Torch Song Trilogy" will recognize the fish-out-of-water
comedy that dominates the first half of the movie. However, the movie
gradually congeals into a more resonant drama of acceptance and
forgiveness without foregoing the humor.
Despite his bare-bones production budget and a sometimes too facile
approach to easy laughs, Jamal has a keen eye for his Deep South
setting and especially his characters that manage to sidestep
stereotypical treatment. What I particularly like about the family
interactions is how Jamal chooses to emphasize the son's elitism that
has alienated the family, not as much his sexual orientation. Rockmond
Dunbar brings a sympathetic core to the uptight son, Patrick in his
current life but Sheldon to his family. However, it's Loretta Devine
who shines as his mother Evelyn, a hardened, alcoholic washerwoman who
holds her own secrets and rails against her son with fervor. She seizes
a great movie moment as she delivers a near-soliloquy at the dinner
table near the end. With her foghorn, female-impersonator delivery,
veteran scene-stealer Jenifer Lewis plays judgmental Aunt Lettuce with
her usual gusto and provides the film's biggest laughs.
Most of the cast is terrific - Terri J. Vaughn's supportive sister
Jackie, Filipino comedian Alec Mapa as the overzealous metrosexual
friend, Sommore's throaty turn as the sassy daughter-in-law, and
Jamal's own performance as Sheldon's straight, dim-bulb brother who
runs the local butcher shop. The one major fly in the ointment is Joey
Costello who comes across far too flighty and naïve as Patrick's
partner Ryan. The film has a too-pat though forgivable ending. In a
concluding Q&A, Jamal said he just filmed the production in April and
is touring this movie in select major cities in special showings
through the summer. He hopes for a Christmas release at which point I
say check it out. Jamal is a most idiosyncratic comedy talent.
Tags for Dirty Laundry Full Movie
, Loretta Devine
, Rockmond Dunbar
, Terri J. Vaughn
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