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Movie Review

Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for drug content, language and some mature thematic material.

Reviewed by: Brian C. Johnson
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Comedy Drama
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2011
USA Release:
April 22, 2011 (wide—2,100+ theaters)
DVD: August 30, 2011
Copyright, Lionsgate Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate Films

marriage in the Bible

anger in the Bible

disobeying the law

dealing drugs

tough love

family secret

Featuring: Tyler PerryMadea/Joe
Loretta Devine … Shirley
Cassi Davis … Aunt Bam
more »
Director: Tyler Perry
Producer: The Tyler Perry Company
Ozzie Areu … executive producer
Michael Paseornek … executive producer
Tyler Perryproducer
Roger M. Bobb … producer
Reuben Cannon … producer
Joseph P. Genier … co-producer
Distributor: Lionsgate Films

“I’ll make your family an offer it can’t refuse.”

Watch out y’all… Madea’s back and she’s as mad as ever! Tyler Perry has kept his promise to his own mother (she passed away recently and asked that he keep Madea around, despite his expressed desire to retire the wig and body suit).

Those who have been fans of Tyler Perry since his breakout career in stage plays have watched Madea’s over-the-top antics over and over (and over and over and over and over). Her acerbic language and definitely rude behavior was funny then, but it wears thin after hearing the same jokes and same dysfunctional family plotlines time and time again.

In “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” Tyler Perry stars and directs the adaptation of his latest popular stag play by the same name. Fans of the play, honestly, will not see much difference between the play and the movie. Madea (Perry) is called in to help Miss Shirley (played by veteran actress Loretta Devine) gather her estranged family together to inform them of her impending demise. Despite her best intentions to raise her children to love God and each other, their bitterness and unforgiveness prohibits them from even spending Sunday dinner together without fighting.

The remainder of the cast includes Perry’s usual cadre of actors reprising the roles that made them household names including David Mann as Mr. Brown and his wife Tamela as Madea’s daughter, Cora, and Cassi Davis (star of TV’s “House of Payne”) who plays Aunt Bam, Miss Shirley’s pot-smoking, over-sexed elderly caretaker. As a matter of fact, virtually the entire cast of the stage play makes cameo appearances in this movie.

As usual, Perry uses Madea’s matriarchal position and voice to try to send powerful messages about family, love, relationships, even God, but sadly, those messages get lost in all of the redundant jokes and bad language. Once again, Perry as writer rides the fine line between acceptability by popular culture standards and his core Christian audiences’ standards. There are some who might be drawn in by the title; don’t be fooled, this is not “family” oriented material. Keep the younger kids at home; perhaps mature teens could handle it, but parents should view first.

In various television and print interviews, Perry promises his loyal fans to keep doing the Madea character, as long as his fans want to see her. If that is Perry’s only criterion, Madea’s iconic status will keep her going for many years to come. The question is, should he/she?

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy (“hell”—30, “damn”—17, “ass”—21, etc.) / Sex/Nudity: Heavy (mature thematic material, sexual dialogue, and some provocative apparel)

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Madea’s first film “Diary of A Mad Black Woman” was a little hit-and-miss, but overall was a funny, touching film. The second installment, “Madea’s Family Reunion” wasn’t as good as the first, but still had plenty of laughs. I was disappointed with the last film, “Madea Goes To Jail”. It just didn’t hold up to my standards, and the humor was few-and-far-between. As I sat through the beginning of “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” I was worried it would be the same trip as the last, but then the laughs started pouring in.

This is my favorite in the series so far. It is very funny, and very touching, I cried some heavy tears, I will freely admit.

What I like about Perry’s (he plays Madea and is the film’s writer, producer and director), is also what most most people don’t like about the films. Perry is a Christian, and provides good, solid morals, all under a guise of a realistic, worldly environment. Characters curse often, make sexual jokes and Aunt Belle is seen most often smoking marijuana. This is not a children’s film in any way. But through the mud and mire, I could see the message embedded in the story, and that’s what I like about Perry’s technique.

As an aspiring film-maker myself (still got some college to go, though), I plan on using the same technique. I might not be so crass, but I believe the best way to share a Christian message is not to shy away from the muck of the world, but use it in a way that the Secular world can understand and identify with.

If you’re a fan of Tyler Perry’s previous films, definitely go see this one! If not, you might enjoy this one more, but I think you best stay away. Though Perry uses a real-world environment to portray his message, I understand why some people don’t want to be put through that, so if that’s you, just avoid this film. Personally, I can’t wait for the next Madea story!
—Benjamin Badger, age 19 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—“Madea’s Big Happy Family” is a good movie with a strong message behind it, but just as a warning, DO NOT let the title fool you, because none of the characters in this movie are actually “happy.” There’s a lot of stress and tension between different people (between the husbands and wives, between the boyfriends and girlfriends). The main character, who is essentially the head of the family, is dying of cancer, and every single time she gathers everybody to tell the news a fight breaks out, and, because of that, the movie can be pretty hard to watch.

The same jokes are also used over and over again. One of the things that really bothered me was the excessive yelling. In fact, when the movie was over, my ears were actually ringing, and I didn’t even see it in the theater, I watched it on DVD at home! It’s not a bad movie, but you have to go through a lot of stress-filled scenes to get to a positive ending, only because the family members finally apologize and vow to start treating each other with respect.

Overall, I would recommend it, just rent the DVD instead of making a purchase. My parents bought it on DVD and it’s still a movie that we’ve only watched once.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—T., age 20 (USA)
Negative
Negative—My wife, son and I left after being assaulted with an extraordinary rate of pathetic, crude language. Made me feel like I needed to wash my ears and mind of the filth.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Todd, age 47 (USA)
Negative—It seems as though the more movies that Tyler Perry comes out with, the bolder he becomes, and the more curse words he uses. The jokes were not very funny (I think I may have laughed out loud maybe once or twice for the entire movie), the ending was rather abrupt and shallow, and even though he didn’t use the heavy words that start with “f” and “s,” the profanity was still excessive, and absolutely unnecessary.

I’ve been a loyal Tyler Perry fan for years, but as a Christian, the only recommendation that I can make to anyone going to see this movie is that you skip it. I also definitely cannot recommend this movie be shown inside a church building when it comes out on DVD. There were so many places where the curse words could have been left out entirely, and it would in no way have taken away from the movie. I mean even the kids were cursing in this movie!

This movie reminds me of the same way that Satan deals with society, and about what passes these days for art, free speech, and entertainment. He doesn’t start out with the sex, violence and profanity right away, but he slips it in little by little until one day we realize that we’re miles away from God yet don’t even realize how it happened. It’s a shame that we are living in a day when a movie that’s supposedly aimed at a Christian audience has just as many, if not more curse words than a typical Chris Rock, or Martin Lawrence movie.

I guess that’s what I get for going out and watching a movie staring a man who in direct violation of Deut. 22:5 dresses up in drag. The sad thing is that no one else in my church seems to have a problem with it. Now I’m starting to realize why Jesus asked if he would find faith on the Earth when he returns.

I’ve been burned too many times from watching Tyler Perry movies thinking I’d be getting some clean, wholesome entertainment. I realize now that the days of his movies being clean have long passed, so I think I will be fasting from Tyler Perry movies from this point forward.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Frank, age 42 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—Most people look at the negative aspects of the drug references, but I see it as a compelling story of fighting the good fight.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Timothy, age 17 (USA)
Positive—To begin, I absolutely love this movie, however, the entire film is littered with minor sexual references and several different drug related scenes. I personally enjoyed the movie, but it was offending that it included God and numerous sinful things. The Bible says “You cannot serve two masters,” however this movie makes it seem understandable to live in a crazy, hectic home, do drugs, cuss and still have a wonderful relationship with the Lord.

As far as entertainment goes, I love Madea and put up with the small things, because the overall comedy makes up for it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Abbi, age 15 (USA)