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David Raynr
Martin Lawrence
Writing Credits:
Martin Lawrence

Not Rated.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 1/7/2003

• Commentary by Director David Raynr, Producer Michael Hubbard, and Executive Producer Robert Lawrence
• Deleted Scene
• "Boxing"
• Backstage Pass - The Making of Runteldat
• Theatrical Trailer


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Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat (2002)

Reviewed by David Williams (January 20, 2003)

Martin Lawrence is still crazy. While he doesn’t always make the best theatrical choices, he’s still at the top of his game when it comes to stand-up and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone as energetic or as lively as him. After causing a stir with 1994’s You So Crazy, Lawrence makes a triumphant return with Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat.

Shot over two nights in Lawrence’s hometown of Washington, DC at Constitution Hall, Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat finds the actor returning to his stand-up roots and obviously enjoying the energy and immediate feedback of a live audience. The show opens up with a nice mini-biographical montage on Lawrence’s controversial life and career, highlighting many great moments from his past. However, we then get a flurry of news snippets that recall some less than pleasant episodes from his past, which include a 1997 shouting match with motorists and police on Ventura Boulevard while packing heat (he admits in his act that he was “high as a mother fuc*er”), as well as his 1999 coma that left him completely incontinent for three days and out of control of his bodily functions (which he makes fun of in his act as well). All of these reports are introduced in the opening credits via clips of actors portraying haughty news anchors whose purpose is to show just how damaged Lawrence felt by the reporting of his personal problems on tabloid TV.

We then meet Lawrence backstage prepping for the show and walking down a long hallway towards the stage. When the curtain drops and the smoke clears, Lawrence lets everyone know right off the bat what to expect. “I ain’t waitin’ for the E TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY to tell my sh*t”!, he states and then we’re off to the races … and boy does Lawrence ever tell his story. He starts off by setting the record straight on his thoughts towards critics and right after he gives them a big F-U in no uncertain terms, Lawrence launches in to his uproarious act. The show is broken up in to two distinct parts, with the first hour or so devoted to Lawrence’s observations on subjects like the September 11th terrorist attacks, how anthrax-laced mail affects your ability to pay bills, his takes on Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, the cathartic properties of alcohol, raising kids with the proper fear and respect for their parents, aging, and even marriage and childbirth. His pointed and self-depreciating humor is right on the money and Lawrence uses his trademark foul language in order to make sure we’re all awake and paying attention. As usual, sex dominates much of the discussion and there’s nothing considered too sacred or taboo that Lawrence feels it’s best to ignore. He takes it all on – full frontal – and it’s a delight to watch.

However, with about 40-minutes left to go, Lawrence takes pot shots at himself as he describes his downward spiral that began in 1997 with the events described above. Lawrence pulls no punches about his actions and hilariously walks us through the day he was high as a kite (due to some extremely potent marijuana) and running in and out of traffic screaming at motorists and police alike, He then moves on to the day where he collapsed in his front yard after a rather strenuous workout in some rather hellacious heat. It’s then, back in 1999, that Lawrence went in to a coma for three days and after he awoke, he had to learn how to walk, talk and even urinate and defecate again. However, he had the help of a rather beautiful nurse during rehab and he audaciously tells us all that was required of her – especially when he wasn’t in control of his bowels.

That type of honesty is what makes Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat so entertaining. Lawrence spares no one – not even himself – in his foul-mouthed tirade of societal observations and confessions. Where Lawrence might be accused of using the stage as a weapon to lash back at his critics, it seems to me that he’s using it more as a confessional to air out his past sins and ask for forgiveness from those who have kept him going all along – his fans. Lawrence seems to have overcome and beaten his inner-demons and Runteldat is a fresh breath of dirty air from him. Welcome back Martin.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+ / Audio B- / Bonus C+

Paramount’s Runteldat is given Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment that simply gets the main points of the film across well. If you’re at all familiar with other DVDs in the comedy stand-up genre, you should know not to expect much and while Paramount does a good job of delivering the goods, there’s nothing here to write home about, as the sound design doesn’t give them much flexibility to work with.

The film is dialogue-driven and therefore, is a very overpowering presence in the front soundstage. Rear surrounds are rarely used and the only time they kick in is to give a boost to the crowd noise/applause at certain moments during the film. Lawrence’s dialogue is natural and crisp and takes its proper prominence in the track and never exhibits any problems related to intelligibility or echoey distortion. The transfer displayed proper dynamics and fidelity for a live concert event, with the LFE never making an impact one way or the other outside of the opening credits.

Runteldat sounds great and ultimately, only adds to the enjoyment of the film. Paramount has also included a Dolby Digital 2.0 track on the DVD, as well as English Closed Captions.

Paramount has included a decent set of extras to supplement the film, with the most notable being a Commentary by Director David Raynr, Producer Michael Hubbard, and Executive Producer Robert Lawrence. The duo provide a rather interesting feature-length commentary that goes in to marvelous detail chronicling the origins of the idea all the way up to the whirlwind tour that culminated in Washington, DC. The group discuss Lawrence’s reasons behind the tour, the group strategy and planning that went in to the act, MTV’s involvement in the tour and the financial backing they provided to bring the act to the big screen, and what it was like having to prepare to shoot the film in less than 10 hours of setup time. There’s a wide range of other subjects covered in the commentary and the group does a fantastic job of keeping things interesting. The commentary ultimately was an engaging one and my only complaint is that Martin Lawrence himself didn’t participate – however, that’s no fault of Paramount and it didn’t detract from the great information offered up by those who did participate.

Following is a Deleted Scene – “Boxing” (5:00) and it’s just what it says it is – a deleted scene from the film that deals with one of Lawrence’s favorite sports. It’s a nice addition to the set and was slightly funny to boot. The scene was presented in widescreen and Dolby Surround.

Backstage Pass (13:46) is our making-of featurette that takes us behind-the-scenes of the making of this film and fills us in on Lawrence’s motivations for wanting to get back in the game, as well as tell his side of the story on the events that occurred in 1997 and again, in 1999. By mixing clips from the film with interview snippets, clips from behind-the-scenes, and clips from Lawrence’s stand-up act on the road, we get a very informative piece on how the event came to be and how Lawrence honed his act on the road in smaller venues to bring it all together. Interviews in the feature were included with David Raynr (Director), Martin Lawrence, Michael Hubbard (Producer), and Robert Lawrence (Executive Producer).

Finally, the DVD gives us the Theatrical Trailer for the film in widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1.

Robin Williams eat your heart out - Martin Lawrence Live captures the comedian at the top of his game and whether or not you agree with Lawrence’s opinions and diatribes, you can’t help but be drawn in by his comedic gifts. Paramount’s DVD ensnares Lawrence at his best and has provided viewers with a technically solid DVD that can be enjoyed time and time again from the comforts of your viewing area. Runteldat comes highly recommended. Make sure you check it out.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3684 Stars Number of Votes: 19
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