Release Date: April 11, 2001
Starring: LL Cool J, Whoopi Goldberg,
Viveca A. Fox, Loretta Devine,
Anthony Anderson, & Cedric the
Audience: Teenagers & adults
Runtime: 89 minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Doug McHenry
Executive Producer: Rochelle Bates & Lawrence
Producer: John Morrissey & Edward Bates
Writer: David Dean Bottrell & Jessie
Address Comments To:Fox Searchlight
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A Division of Fox, Inc.
10201 West Pico Blvd., Bldg. 38
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-4402
The opening of the shot of KINGDOM COME looks down on a mythical central valley at the church in the center of Lulu, a mythical town. The next shot takes viewers outside the church. The final climax and denouement take place inside the church. However, in spite of the fact that the church is the central visual metaphor, the church is not being extolled; rather, Jesus Christ and His saving grace is. From beginning to end, this movie is explicit about where our hope lies.
In the first scene, Whoopi Goldberg, who plays Raynelle, or Momma as everyone calls her, is reading to her husband, Bud, a letter from his sister, Marguerite. Marguerite wants Bud to get right before the Lord before he dies. She chides him for not coming to church. She quotes 2 Peter 3:8ff, especially verse 10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.” She explains to him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She asks if he wants to watch television rather than go to church, is there going to be TV in Hell? During this reading of Meg’s letter, husband Bud dies.
The minister visits and tells Momma that he did not know much about Bud. Momma says Bud was mean and surly. In fact, that’s what she wants on his gravestone. Momma explains that she was saved twenty years earlier, but Bud was incensed that she came to Jesus Christ, and so they stopped all marital activity. Shocked, the minister tries to be positive and translates Momma’s comments as, “He was quiet and kept his own counsel.”
The death requires a funeral, and so the Slocumb clan must assemble. The deceased’s sister, Meg, calls her no-good son, Royce, to ask her to drive him to Lulu. She reviles him for his wicked ways. She rebukes him for cursing, smoking and drinking. Though seething with rebellion, he decides to drive her to Lulu.
Momma’s boy, Junior, his wife, Charise, and their three children get in their rickety Cadillac to drive to the funeral. Their three children are brats, and Charise harangues Junior the whole way. Charise has two things on her husband. One, he lost their money on a stupid venture, and, two, he committed adultery. At one point, he tries to kill them by accelerating, but ends up on the side of the road. At another point, he pulls a gun on her, but she notices that it’s not loaded.
Momma’s other boy, Ray, and his kind and gracious wife, Lucille, live in Lulu. Ray was an alcoholic but now has gotten his life together. He works at a garage for Clyde, who is an alcoholic and who offers with a wink and a nod to destroy the funeral home if they make any mistakes.
Several other cousins and family members make up the rest of the Slocumb clan. These people have problems, and one by one they turn to the Lord for help. When Ray can’t stand the loss of his father anymore, he thinks about going back to the bottle. He prays and the pastor shows up in his car to ask Ray if he wants to follow him in his car to the church. By the end, even Marguerite’s rebellious son, Royce, has accepted Christ and quotes Scripture in the church service, to her amazement.
These are real people. They are not polished, but they are human and compelling. The sound in KINGDOM COME is spotty and some of the lighting is bad, but the music by gospel rhythm and blues star Kirk Franklin is terrific. The direction has a light touch, so the audience will not feel that the movie is preaching, although it is. In fact, even the Los Angeles Times was favorably moved by the deft direction by Doug McHenry.
Regrettably, some of the acting is spotty and the themes don’t all come together to weave a coherent plot. However, even as it failed to deliver on its way-too-many plot points, KINGDOM COME is lovable because it feels Real.
KINGDOM COME is a low budget movie, but the characters are so wonderful that, with all their flaws, it would be nice to be with them at that church service in Lulu.
KINGDOM COME is a low budget movie, but the characters are so wonderful that, with all their flaws, it would be nice to be with them at that church service in Lulu. These people are not polished, but they are human and compelling. The direction has a light touch, so the audience won’t feel that this movie is preaching at them. Also, the music is terrific. Regrettably, there is some foul language and some discussion about adultery and alcoholism, which are rebuked