Rarely does anyone share a stage with the great Eddie Murphy, the sidesplitting Martin Lawrence and the radiant Halle Berry, and still manage to steal the scene…possibly, the movie. John Witherspoon not only managed to do just that in Boomerang, but, while doing so, he supplied pop culture with a gang of phrases.
In a movie where Martin Lawrence explains that the concept behind a simple game of billiards is one of racial domination, and where the beautiful Lela Rochon demonstrates that the prettiest people can have toes better used for putting nails in walls, John Witherspoon had, arguably, the most memorable scene in the film.
Never a stranger to saying the most impromptu things at the most conservative times, Mr. Witherspoon embodied everything we love and hate about old folks. We love their candid outspokenness, tacky fashion, and blunt advice when it comes to love. And we hate when those very same straightforward folks are our very own family members, especially when they’re putting their “enjoyable” behavior on display for the world to see. They can inadvertently blow up spots, pull cards the size of posters, or share that devastating family secret that you worked so hard to bury – much to the delight of the audience, I might add. But you can’t get too mad because you know at the end of the day there isn’t any malicious intent on their side; they’re just free-spirited after they hit 50 or 60...give or take a decade.
In this scene, David Alan Grier manifested exactly how we feel inside when experiencing those embarrassing mom-and-dad moments. Nonetheless, when those same outspoken folk happen to be someone else’s fam, as was the case with Eddie Murphy, we all love to humor them when they offer their insights. We might take it a step further and ask for more wisdom; even if it’s only to make their day (or ours, Ha!). And that’s what made this scene work. We’ve all been there once or twice before and will keep going back, one way or another.
(And let’s not forget a major aspect of this scene that has either been forgotten or not taken seriously amongst all the other realness and comedic elements: Witherspoon’s abrasiveness and keen fashion sense for mushrooms, which Russell Westbrook will undoubtedly emulate in his sixties or in 60 days. You never know with that kid.)
After calling Eddie out for being as soft as butter and twice as whipped, Mr. Jackson (Witherspoon) told him something that made more sense than a rhyme from Common: “Don’t get pu**y whipped; whip that pu**y!” The science behind the guidance was undeniable. Banging his hips into the side of a table like Ashton Kutcher when he’s romancing his ladylove (you’re beautiful, Mila!), J-Dub was as raw with his knowledge and wisdom as he was poetic, but it’s on us as men to understand and absorb the lesson. And judging from the sounds that Mrs. Jackson (Bebe Drake) made while he demonstrated how to, ahem, do the damn thing, it was obvious that this man was the Indiana Jones of his respective field. Remember, the Devil knows more from being old than from being evil. So respect it and don’t neglect it.