While TV's Ralph Kramden often threatened to send his irascible wife, Alice, to the moon with one punch to the kisser, don't expect any spousal abuse in the mushy, pedestrian and totally unnecessary big-screen version of The Honeymooners.
No, instead of wanting to knock her block off, New York City bus driver Ralph Kramden (Cedric the Entertainer) sweetly offers to take his soon-to-be longsuffering wife, Alice (Gabrielle Union), to the moon, promising her he'll be making it very big very soon. Six years into the marriage, Ralph is still driving a bus, Alice is a waitress, and the two live in a rundown tenement apartment. But Ralph hasn't given up on his dreams to take his family to the next level. He is convinced he is just one great idea away from instant wealth and elicits help from his encouraging, if slightly ditzy, best friend and upstairs neighbor, Ed Norton (Mike Epps). He's always there to lend a hand when Ralph goes off halfcocked on another half-baked idea. But Alice has set her sights on a more practical goal: buying a duplex fixer-upper with Ed and his wife, Trixie (Regina Hall). And when Ralph expectedly loses their down payment on yet another failed project, he has to come up with the cash right quick before Alice sends him to the moon. Without a space suit. Let the hilarity ensue!
The one saving grace to this Honeymooners redo is the casting. Cedric the Entertainer is a perfect fit as Ralph Kramden, a blustering blowhard with a heart of gold. Although the actor claims he steered away from doing an impression of the late Jackie Gleason, who immortalized the role way back when, Cedric still can't help but slip into the Great One's persona every once in awhile, especially when yelling ''Norton!'' And the hilarious Epps, as the bumbling but sweet Ed, makes an ideal sidekick, like Art Carney did in the original. Adding to the fracas is John Leguizamo. He plays a streetwise conman who hustles the boys into believing he's a dog trainer after Ralph comes up with the brilliant plan to race Ed's dog, a stray they find in an alley. Don't ask. Whether it's the three of them, or just Cedric and Epps, you just know there had to have been a lot of extra takes. Their antics are hysterical, and it looks like they are constantly trying to crack each other up. The girls, on the other hand, don't look like they are having as much fun. They're relegated to pointing their fingers at their husbands and warning them not to screw up. Right, like that's going to happen.
The original The Honeymooners changed the course of television in the 1950s by becoming the first smash hit sitcom. Turning this slice of American history into a contemporary feature film, however, is definitely one of those why-mess-with-a-good-thing? scenarios. Director John Schultz (Like Mike) does an adequate job maneuvering the mix of comic talents and letting them each do their thing. But overall, it's a bland, run-of-the-mill comedy. The film could have easily been made without having any Honeymooner icons attached to it at all and it would have been the same. And the most amazing thing is that it is without any of the original's mean-spiritedness. I mean, even for a time where America was at a supposed height of conservatism, there were moments in the show in which you thought Ralph might actually haul off and smack Alice. Gleason really did have one of the best wild-eyed, don't-push-me-too-far stares. In the watered-down, sappy remake, however, Ralph is a pussycat who only wants to make his wife proud of him. Gag.
Although The Honeymooners will more than likely produce a few chuckles, especially if you stay through the credits to watch the outtakes, it certainly isn't a tribute to the classic original.