A crowd of 500--containing plenty of film and music industry heavies--turned out at the AMC Theater on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade Monday night for the long-awaited premiere of the controversial film, "Martin Lawrence You So Crazy."
This concert film features comedian Lawrence doing his solo performance with a kaleidoscopic array of character changes, not to mention very . . . er, adult language and situations.
The release was delayed because Miramax, the original distributor, was unwilling to distribute the film when it got an NC-17 rating.
"We decided to run like hell to make an early date, frantically putting posters together and everything," said Tom Rothman, president of production for the Samuel Goldwyn Co., which came to the film's rescue by agreeing to distribute it unrated.
"To cut this movie would have been a compromise that nobody wanted to make. You can't edit a concert film for content," Rothman said.
"If I'm coming into your house and you invite me and I'm cussin', then you can say something because I'm in your house," Lawrence told the crowd in an expletive-sprinkled, pre-screening address. "This is my film, this is my art, this is what I've seen, this is who I am. Language ain't what kills people."
The audience--many clad in gold chains and baggies although the suit-and-tie contingent was out in force as well--came along with little attrition when the fete moved a block up the Promenade to Renaissance for a post-screening party. Familiar faces in the star-studded turnout included Wesley Snipes, Robert Townsend, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Branford Marsalis, James Wilder, Dana Delany and the members of the musical groups En Vogue and Boyz II Men.
"What's missing in black cinema now is relationships," said comedian-director Townsend, whose credits include "Hollywood Shuffle." "So watching a comedian onstage talking about love, the audience is getting something they're missing because there has never been one black love story."
Few seemed to find "You So Crazy" as vulgar as the ratings board did, because the waiters and waitresses cruising Renaissance carrying trays of tomato with basil baguettes, spring rolls and quiches had no shortage of takers.