by Daniel O'Connell Ever since 2005, playwright turned filmmaker Tyler Perry has been making films about Mabel “Madea” Simmons, a sassy old black woman who often gives wise advice. In the vein of Big Momma’s House or The Nutty Professor, Perry has played the role of Madea, dressing up in make-up, and performing multiple different characters. Having made over 11 films featuring Madea, the films have been a commercial success and have certainly found their audience. On the flip side, they have been critically panned. Famed black director Spike Lee has derided the films, equating them as the modern equivalent of a minstrel show. With this film being announced as the last of the Madea films, Tyler Perry does not end these films with a bang. He ends them with a very quiet whimper.
Bare bones plot padded out with rambling comedyThe plot of this movie concerns Madea (Tyler Perry), her ex-pimp brother Joe (also Tyler Perry), and her sidekicks Hattie (Patrice Lovely) and Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) attending the 40th-anniversary party of Anthony (Derek Morgan) and Vianne (Jen Harper). Being driven to the party by Madea’s lawyer nephew Brian (traditional Tyler Perry), they stop by the hotel they’ll be staying at. However, they discover that Anthony is also at the hotel, having died during a session with his mistress. The happy gathering quickly turns into a funeral, as Madea and company must keep the dark secret from getting out. If the plot of this movie looks incredibly thin, that’s because it is. The major plot point of Madea and friends discovering the dead Anthony doesn’t happen until roughly halfway through the film. That’s because the lead-up scenes, featuring Madea and friends, are dragged out by the characters in the scene rambling and riffing off one another. A good example of this is when they’re pulled over by a cop for swerving in traffic. The cop doesn’t come there immediately, because the first half of this scene is padded out by the group getting rid of the weed they have stashed on them. There’s also a debate between Brian and his passengers about how black people getting shot by the police wouldn’t happen if they just complied. This attempt at social commentary goes nowhere as the cop finally arrives, acts incredibly aggressive towards Brian, before becoming reasonable and pleasant after he checks his license and registration. And then cue more riffing from Madea once the cop leaves. These scenes of Madea rambling and riffing plague the entire movie. It makes the movie feel longer than its hour and forty-minute running time would suggest. The titular funeral doesn’t happen until two-thirds into the movie. The main joke of the scene is how long and dragged out funeral processions are, with the film cutting back to a clock’s hands moving to show how long the funeral is taking. The irony of this is lost on the good Mr. Perry. The only other bit of plot this film has is a subplot involving Vianne and Anthony’s son Will having an affair with his brother A.J.’s fiancée. This melodramatic plot point wouldn’t feel out of place in one of Perry’s dramas, and overall adds nothing to the movie. In fact, the scenes focusing on the subplot feel disconnected from the main plot. One half of this movie is a melodramatic black soap opera. The other half is a sitcom starring the Asylum version of Eddie Murphy’s The Klumps.
Cinematography better suited for TVAnother thing that should be mentioned is the way the movie is shot. To put it simply, it’s shot like it’s a sitcom that you would find on daytime television. Every time the film would jump to a new location, it would start with an establishing shot of the building the scene takes place in before cutting inside. This is not unlike something a sitcom would do. Another distracting thing is that when two or more characters are having a conversation, it would frequently cut from one person to another as they finished speaking. Because of these choices in cinematography, it makes the movie feel like something you should not be watching in theaters. It feels like something you would watch on TV during a stay in a hospital while in a full body cast. It’s not something that you would watch by choice.
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