Madea’s Big Happy Family

7 May

Title: Madea’s Big Happy Family
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Tyler Perry
Writer: Tyler Perry
Starring: 
Tyler Perry, Loretta Devine, Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, David Mann, Cassi Davis, Tamela Brown Mann, Lauren London, Isaiah Mustafa, Rodney Perry, Shannon Kane
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, drug content, language and some mature thematic material
Runtime: 
106 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
2.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 
41%

Look, I am most certainly not part of Tyler Perry’s target audience, I’m just a nineteen year-old white boy while his core demo is african american women around 40 or so which always frontload his films on the first weekend to really solid debuts and have helluva lot of loyalty towards him. So yeah, even though I’m certainly not the audience the guy is trying to please, nor do I particularly like his stuff, I actually have a lot of respect for the man. And that’s because he’s a real entrepreneur, his name has become a brand and his audience is as loyal as it gets. He’s a guy who does television, film and stage work successfully and who has directed two films a year since 2007 (plus the first one he directed in 2006), and who has had made some really nice profit at the box office from them. So yeah, I don’t necessarily like his stuff, but this is clearly a man who knows what he’s doing, and he’s doing it right.

I saw both of the films Mr. Perry released last year. First was Why Did I Get Married Too?, a sequel to a 2007 film of his, which I thought was definitely lacking in overall quality and gave a C grade to, which is sort of where I grade most of his films, if not a bit lower. But then came For Colored Girls, his adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s 1975 play, his first R-rated film, his most serious film and, to me, far and out the best thing the guy has ever directed, especially with the incredible performance he got from Kimberly Elise in that one. I gave that film a B grade, and was really pleased to see Mr. Perry tackle that sort of material.

Now, I knew his next effort wouldn’t be like For Colored Girls, because I knew he would start being funny again and reprise his role as Madea, his trademark character, and one I personally don’t really love at all. The last time he had visited his famous recurring character that makes him dress in drag as this big aggressive old woman was in 2009’s Madea Goes to Jail which saw the Madea character get the most screen-time she’s gotten to date and which I thought was worthy of a C grade at best but that still made over $90 million on a $17.5 million budget, which is just proof of how devoted his fanbase is, which in the world that we live is really accomplishing something.

But that’s just the thing, all of his films I get that they’re not meant for me at all, and they’re totally bearable and I can genuinely see why his fanbase would hold them so dear and make them so incredibly successful financially. But this one, Madea’s Big Happy Family, left me completely befuddled because I just thought this one was plain bad, I honestly couldn’t think of any reason why even his target audience would find this appealing, but you know that won’t really matter and it’ll still make quite a lot of money and people will be all over Madea again when she pops back on our screens yet again a couple years from.

I will never say that Mr. Perry should retire his shtick as Madea, but it’s just that after seeing his potential in For Colored Girls, a film that was far from perfect but that still had a good chunk of real solid moments, I can’t really comprehend why he’d want to go back to this. This one I thought was truly all over the place as far as tone and demeanor went. And I know part of the appeal of having a recurring character in your films, especially one that has been previously embraced by audiences, is the fact that people know what to expect and presumably love just that, but in this one everything Mr. Perry does just feels terribly recycled to the point of redundancy and it’s just wholly unpleasing.

I’ll fail this movie because I honestly thought it was crappy. His other films I generally don’t like but I pass them because I know they’re not meant for me and I can appreciate how Mr. Perry’s input to the African American culture has been extremely positive, this isn’t a film with excessive amounts of hip-hop or guns, which is what many African American-oriented films, stereotypical as it may sound, are like. His films instead show the other side, and in the very Madea who I find so obnoxious has a character that’s super funny and aggressive but that still is used by Mr. Perry to give a good whole-hearted family-friendly lesson.

But yet in Madea’s Big Happy Family, even though it obviously means well, we’re treated to an onslaught of bad jokes and gags and even the lesson of the film is thrown at us in a very uninspired manner that left me wanting more, it left me wanting even some of the old Mr. Perry which I didn’t particularly like but which at least I could see someone liking. I won’t run down the plot for this one here, you know you’ll get young characters who talk back to Madea, adults with deeper crisis of their own who’ll Madea will end up giving advice to, and you know Mr. Perry will be there in drag delivering his trademark one-liners with his trademark character and laughing his way to the bank. I just hope that all the cash he makes from this one prompts him to do another For Colored Girls.

Grade: D+

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