Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family
MADEA’S BIG HAPPY FAMILY
By Wilson Morales
You are either a fan or not when it comes to watching a Tyler Perry film, or specifically when watching him in his signature role as Madea.
When Madea is the focal point of the film, as she had been for ‘Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes To Jail,’ there’s no limit to how much one will laugh, cry, and receive some gospel when exiting the theater; but the tone of his newest film, ‘Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family,’ may inspire some to think whether Perry should put Madea to rest. The characters presented are degrading to women and an embarrassment to Perry’s followers.
Loretta Devine, who played the sassy Juanita in Perry’s ‘For Colored Girls,’ plays Shirley, a cancer stricken Christian lady who wants to gather her family together to tell them the sad news. With her closest and pot-smoking friend, Aunt Bam (played by ‘House of Payne’s Cassi Davis) at her side, Shirley’s efforts in communicating with her children isn’t as easy as she had hope.
Her daughter Kimberly (played by Shannon Kane), is a successful real estate broker who hates to come by the house. She doesn’t get along with any of her siblings; which is much to the chagrin of her husband (played by Old Spice commercial pitchman Isaiah Mustafa), who offers his support to them when needed.
Shirley’s son-in-law Calvin (played by Rodney Perry) is constantly berated by her other daughter Tammy (played by Natalie Desselle-Reid) that their son thinks he’s the man of the house.
Youngest child Byron (played by Bow Wow), who’s recently out of jail, loves his mother, but has to deal with a girlfriend (played by Lauren London), who wants him to return to his life of crime so that he has enough money to support her and his son. This leads to several confrontations with his baby mama Sabrina (played by Teyana Taylor), who would love to spoil whatever happiness Byron has, so long as he comes up with his court-order child support fees.
Then there’s Madea, Shirley’s aunt who loves to meddle in other people’s affair for the greater good. When she gets wind of what’s happening in Shirley’s household, there’s no stopping her from throwing her two cents in the mix and helping grant Shirley’s wishes.
Meanwhile, Madea is dealing with own her crisis as daughter Cora (played by Tamela Mann), while caring for her dad, Mr.Brown (played by David Mann), receives some alarming news about her family.
Madea, as always, is there to provide the comic relief, but there aren’t enough jokes or gospel wisdom to satisfy a crowd who want to walk away feeling all will be alright.
Perry always brings life to Madea. One will get a barrel of laughs when she’s on the screen; but when she’s not, it’s just depressing to see actors wasted in these roles. Devine is totally resigned in her role, giving in a one dimensional performance. Bow Wow and Mustafa make an appealing effort, while everyone else is either doing too much or too little. Teyana Taylor is certainly making her presence known, but it may inspire some walk outs from the theater. With Perry serving as writer, producer, and director, it’s a bit difficult for any of them to give him advice on tweaking the script a bit.
In most of Perry’s Madea films, it was usually the men (played by Steve Harris, Blair Underwood, Phillip Van Lear, Brian White) who were the evildoers, but with this film, Tyler has done the opposite. His depiction of women are helpless, spiteful, and uncaring.
‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ is a big mess.