"No arrangement of words can truly illustrate the elements of agony that Tyler Perry’s latest film, "Madea’s Big Happy Family," forcefully submerges its viewers into, but here are a few meager attempts: deplorable and disgraceful direction, abject acting and sully storytelling.
"That’s right, "Madea’s Big Happy Family" is more than just an awful or misguided story, it’s the creation of an all-hands-on-deck effort to provide the most mindless and inauspicious waste of an hour and 46 minutes possible. Please re-read that last sentence, and realize that the word "effort" deserves a special emphasis.
"The story revolves around Shirley, played by Loretta Devine ("For Colored Girls"), and the inevitable conclusion to her recurring battle with cancer. She has, according to her crudely acted doctor, Phillip Anthony-Rodriguez ("Grand Theft Auto: Vice City"), between four and six weeks to settle her personal affairs. In Tyler Perry’s version of reality, this translates to uniting her three children and their families over dinner in roughly two days, because that’s the only way they could receive this tragic news.
"Of course, that’s a nearly impossible task. Byron, played by Shad Moss (also known as the rapper Bow Wow), can’t lose his ‘baby mama’ or his latest ‘catch’ long enough to give his mother’s message a landing spot; Tammy, played by Natalie Desselle-Reid ("Eve"), is too busy unleashing some unfound, and never analyzed, wrath on her husband to hear her mother’s faint cries; and Kimberly, played by Shannon Kane ("All My Children"), is blinded by a nightmare that began 18 years ago, so she is certainly not an option.
"What is one to do with such a tragic unraveling of a family, the single most important entity in Tyler Perry’s universe?
"The answer, it seems, is simple: call in Madea, played by Perry himself.
"Madea, an extraordinarily masculine, goofy and, frankly, intimidating older woman, acts as the family’s hired thug. She quickly hits the town and gathers the children together, all while spreading her views on society, family and respect through excessive force.
"This character provides the moral lessons of the film, either directly through her words or through her interactions with others. Important Madea-inspired logic includes slapping children until they respect their elders, telling men to take control of their wives and driving through the glass wall of a fast food restaurant to berate the employees as a response to a rude interaction with one teller.
"If you’re keeping score at home, then make sure you the check the following off on your "Poor values pushed by Tyler Perry" scorecard: violence toward children, marriage inequality, outbursts of rage and physical damage to private property. If you still have lead in your pencil, then figure out what else needs to be checked off for the recurring "1-800-Choke-Dat-Ho" joke.
"Madea, along with Aunt Bam, played by Cassi Davis ("Tyler Perry’s House of Payne"), and Mr. Brown, played by David Mann ("Meet the Browns"), provides over-the-top, and generally tangential, slap-stick humor to a serious and downright depressing story.
"But these uncomfortable laughs don’t push the tragic ending along in a satisfactory fashion. No, they’re a poor disguise to hide the family’s inability to pay any attention to Shirley’s final hours; they’re a neon yellow camouflage over Perry’s shortcomings in illustrating the true tragedy of the story; and they’re a deplorable use of stereotypes, as are far too many characters in this film.
""Madea’s Big Happy Family" is a film with some sort of hidden agenda. It tries to promote family values but instead it promotes negative racial stereotypes, a monstrous view of women and an idea that men are victimized by all of this.
"Of course, none of the above is nearly as offensive as the idea that this film is supposed to be entertaining.