Bob Tremblay: Martin Lawrence must be stopped

Bob Tremblay

There are bad actors and then there's Martin Lawrence.

Since the glorious demise of Pauly Shore's career, no actor has starred in more wretched movies than M.L. He is the undisputed king of crud.

Don't believe me? I challenge you to name an actor working today who has starred in 12 thoroughly abysmal movies. His closest competition comes from Rob Schneider, but Schneider's numbers don't compare to M.L.'s. But it's not just quantity that separates Marty from the pack, it's the powerful stench his films produce. Skunks and cesspools have nothing on M.L.'s movies.

His films aren't just awful. They're aggressively awful, almost as if M.L. is trying to make films that assault the intelligence of moviegoers.

We should note that M.L. does have an audience. Yet so did Shore. Fortunately, his fans eventually tired of his moronic act and deserted him. One can only hope and pray that M.L.'s fans do the same. Quickly.

Until then, moviegoers who crave Cro-Magnon comedy have Cro-Martin Lawrence as their patron saint.

This year, M.L. has surpassed himself by starring in not just one but two pathetic films, and it's only April. Fortunately, the Internet Movie Database doesn't have M.L. making any more movies in 2008.

So, are you ready for the assault? Here they are, Martin Lawrence's Very Dirty Dozen:

"COLLEGE ROAD TRIP" (2008) - In this tremendously trite comedy, M.L. plays an overprotective father who wants his daughter to go to college close to home. But daughter wants to go away to school, setting up a road trip with dad. Humor involves watching a car tip over, a pig terrorize a wedding and Donny Osmond act like an idiot. Lawrence contributes to the merriment by making faces - an M.L. trademark. No one can contort a mug like M.L.

This movie made about $17 million in its first week of release, basically because it was the only G-rated movie in theaters at the time. It earned money by default. It made only $7 million in its second week. That's a hefty $10 million drop due to the fact that even M.L.'s fans discovered what a piece of dung this film is and, more significantly, another G-rated movie opened - "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" - which just happens to be decent. Give viewers a choice and M.L. hears a boo.

At the screening I attended, about 10 people were in the theater and three walked out. When people bolt from a G-rated movie, you know it's putrid.

"WELCOME HOME, ROSCOE JENKINS" (2008) - In this rancid comedy, M.L. is a talk-show host who reluctantly returns home for a family reunion. Think he discovers the importance of family at the end?

But first we get treated to such hilarious gags as an elderly woman getting smashed in the face by a baseball and an overweight woman pounding M.L. into submission. Priceless. Once again, M.L. mugs for the camera. Repeatedly.

"WILD HOGS" (2007) - M.L. co-stars in this abominable movie as a suburban biker who travels across America in search of adventure. Call it "Queasy Rider." The film wastes the talents of John Travolta, William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei and Ray Liotta. The less said about Tim Allen the better.

Most of the humor here derives from moronic slapstick that would be beneath the Three Stooges. Then there are all the repulsive gay jokes. The film is a treat for homophobes everywhere.

"BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE 2" (2006) - M.L. reprises his role as an FBI agent who dons a fat suit to go undercover and catch the bad guys.

As Eddie Murphy proved in "Norbit," films mocking overweight women can be offensive. M.L. also proves it can be stupid.

"REBOUND" (2005) - M.L. tries his hand at sports comedy and dribbles the ball off his foot. Here, he portrays a disgraced college basketball coach who ends up coaching a ragtag team of teens. Meet Bad News Martin.

If there's one trait that runs throughout most of M.L.'s films, it's their strict adherence to formula. When you go to an M.L. movie, there are no surprises. In virtually all his movies, he displays the same traits - tough on the outside, soft on the inside and his character will see the light by the final reel with happy endings overdosing on sickening cliches.

Like Shore, M.L. is a one-trick pony, and the pony is lame.

"NATIONAL SECURITY" (2003) - M.L. plays a security guard who wants to be a cop and Steve Zahn plays a cop who becomes a security guard in this scatterbrained, buddy-buddy flick. Think "48 Hours" with a lobotomy. Here, M.L. plays the race card for yuks. Zahn should have sued for non-support. M.L. also produced this one, so he deserves even more blame.

"BLACK KNIGHT" (2001) - In this stinky fish-out-of-water comedy, M.L. gets transported back to the 14th century. Sadly, he doesn't stay there. The joke here centers around putting an urban black man in medieval England. The concept might have worked if the lead actor didn't possess the comic skills of a truncheon. Yet another M.L. executive production.

"WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?" (2001) - How about watching this movie? Here, M.L. plays a thief doing battle with a sleazy tycoon over a ring. The talents of Danny DeVito, John Leguizamo, Glenne Headly and William Fichtner get tossed in the Dumpster in this alleged comedy.

The film demonstrates another one of M.L.'s skills - his uncanny ability to drag good actors down to his subterranean level. He also served as executive producer. The movie's only saving grace? It was filmed in Massachusetts.

"BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE" (2000) - See comments for the sequel since this film plays out in exactly the same vile fashion. M.L. gets another executive producer credit.

"BLUE STREAK" (1999) - M.L. is a thief again in yet another comedy in search of laughs. The hook here has M.L.'s crook hiding a jewel at a construction site. After getting out of jail, M.L. discovers the site has become a police station and the remainder of the film has him trying to recover the gem. Dave Chappelle becomes the latest M.L. victim as he finds himself sapped of his comedic energy. That's M.L. for you - he's comic kryptonite.

"NOTHING TO LOSE" (1997) - Except your mind. I actually had some kind words for this film when I reviewed it. I also had some kind words for "Hudson Hawk." Critics do get brain-freeze every now and then. M.L. plays a carjacker in this warped buddy-buddy film, but he's a kinder and gentler miscreant as he needs money to support his adorable family. The tables get turned, however, when his carjacking victim turns out to be a very angry executive.

Tim Robbins goes along for the ride here with modest success. One assumes he cashed his paycheck quickly. While this film doesn't serve M.L.'s typical tonic of dregs, it follows a pattern of most of his films where the comedy gets straitjacketed by timidity. Instead of settling for safe, broad humor, M.L. should try pushing the envelope and adding edge to his shtick as Murphy did in his early films. Either M.L. doesn't want to take this approach for fear of alienating his fans or he's incapable of pulling it off. I'd like to think it's the former, but based on his resume, it looks like the latter.

"A THIN LINE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE" (1996) - This comedy-thriller is arguably M.L.'s worst film, which is quite an accomplishment considering all the bile that succeeded it. The film earns this dubious honor because M.L. is more responsible for its rottenness. He not only starred in it, he directed and co-wrote it.

Here he plays a lothario who eventually discovers the joys of fidelity. Like a backed-up toilet, the film swirls in racial stereotypes as cretinous blacks are cool and intelligent blacks are psychopaths. Nice message.

Incredibly, no studio has let M.L. direct another film. Can't imagine why.

We could add another movie to this list to make it a baker's dozen as M.L.'s concert film "Runteldat" (2002) was also horrendous.

For the record, M.L. has played supporting roles in quality films such as "Do the Right Thing." He also co-starred in the two "Bad Boys" films. These films are far superior to standard M.L. fare. That said, one might wonder if these movies would have been as successful if the other star weren't an actor loaded with talent named Will Smith. M.L. also benefited from Murphy's presence in "Life."

While IMDb doesn't have any of M.L.'s movies on its radar, you can bet he's going to be starring in other films. But this just has to stop, and the sooner the better.

Not only is M.L. responsible for making lousy movies, he's responsible for perpetuating a lowbrow mind set. He has to be removed from the big screen and replaced by someone who's actually funny. Where M.L. belongs is where all performers with no talent belong - on direct-to-video releases. Yes, it's time for Martin Lawrence to meet the Olsen twins.

Play's the thing

It's now time for TRIVIA.

Last month's tester: Bob Tremblay is on vacation, so he'll give you the answer to last month's question in his next column, which will run on May 11.

This month's tester: What actor launched his career in an adaptation of a play and ended his career playing a character introduced to American audiences during World War II? Name the actor, the adaptation and the character.

The first person to answer the trivia question correctly will receive a "Be Kind Rewind" T-shirt.

Trivia enthusiasts can call me at 508-626-4409 or e-mail me at

Make sure you leave your name, address and number on my message machine or e-mail so I can contact you if you answered the question correctly. The address is needed so winners can be mailed their prize. Callers should spell out their names slowly and clearly so their names will be spelled correctly in the column. Only one guess per household, please.

Answers will be accepted until 5 p.m. on April 15. Good luck!