Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Madea Challenge! Part Six: Madea's Big Happy Family

Back again...Part the Sixth. I think I'm drowning here. I'm not even kidding, Madea is starting to enter my nightmares. There I am, minding my own business playing Go Fish with Hitler, Warwick Davis, and the cast of Scooby Doo, and all of a sudden this old black lady bursts in like the fucking Koolaid man to lecture me about how I ain't livin' right and how I need ta recognize something or other. I can't really understand half the shit she's saying, because she's Madea, and her incredibly fake accent that I'm now almost sure is not authentically southern or authentically anything just bleeds together into a slow discordant hum. And then I wake up, and then I have to watch another fucking Madea movie! Madea #6 ya'll.

Madea Level Six: Madea's Big Happy Family

Well, I suppose I can say that its easily a vast improvement on the last one, if only because the last one almost made me choke on my own vomit. In fact, I might go as far as to say that despite the most frightening cartoon opening credit sequence in recent memory, it might just be the best one yet in this series. Actually, Madea's Big Happy Family is kind of weird as Madea movies go. For one thing, the whole abusive relationship dynamic is reversed, now with the men being the beleaguered parties and the women being the one dimensionally evil significant others. Its actually a nice change of pace, but ultimately, the result is the same, minus the physical abuse. Also, its as if the usual God fixes everything garbage is almost turned on its head, as Madea's harsh wisdom/overbearing nagging is called in to save the day specifically when faith alone seems to fail.

The story follows a mother that I must assume is somehow related to Madea (as the family is getting a bit too big to easily keep track of at this point) who finds out that she has cancer and wishes to assemble her family to give them the bad news. Unfortunately, said family is incredibly dysfunctional to the point that they can't spend more than a few minutes in the same room with each other without an explosive argument, so its on Madea to bring everyone together for some reason. Family secrets and long held animosities boil up to the surface, threatening to tear the clan apart until our favorite elderly matriarch solves all of their problems by yelling at them.

That's pretty much it actually. A bunch of shit gets stirred up, then Madea resolves all of their disputes through the power of berating them for five minutes straight. It goes on for so long I was half expecting this to finally be the moment someone actually got up and just slapped her across the face and told her to mind her own business for once. Otherwise Madea is as crazy as always, sending her car careening into a fast food restaurant to get back at a rude drive thru operator, and revealing a secret past as, as she puts it "putting the H and O in Ho" when the paternity of her daughter is found to be in dispute. This latter plot thread culminates in a post credit trip to the Maury Povich show that I wanna say has to be offensive, but that I found rather amusing regardless.

If there's a main character apart from Madea, it would be the young single father played by Bow Wow (formerly Lil Bow Wow), who struggles to stay on the straight and narrow raising an infant son while trying to deal with a greedy ex-girlfriend, a greedier current girlfriend, and the lure of easy money by going back to dealing drugs. I commend the film for not going so over the top with the potential tragedy of his circumstances (remembering Meet The Browns where one day dealing drugs gets you instantly shot in the back), and for presenting a male character in a predominant role who isn't either an asshole or a hunky alternative to an asshole. The aforementioned ex-girlfriend merits special mention, as her one character trait seems to be her propensity to scream her ex-boyfriends name in an incredibly annoying way, which happens enough times that it goes from funny, to unbearable, to funny again, though in retrospect I don't quite remember if it ended up cycling back to unbearable in the final minutes.

This film also introduces the movie going audience to Aunt Bam who I gather is a much bigger presence in the plays. She's basically an old lady version of the excitable Mr. Brown who has since popped up in several of the films himself including this one. Bam is basically a poor man's Madea without the edge, wacky and eccentric but not really all that entertaining. Her seemingly most important character trait is that she really loves to smoke weed, which could have been a lot funnier than it is. Thankfully Madea's brother Joe gets a few good lines in here and there, certainly more so than the last go round. An extended bit where he imitates the floor, crying out with so many fat women standing on it when the family gathers in his kitchen is probably the highlight.

Madea's Big Happy Family is up there with Madea Goes To Jail as one of the few examples of this franchise that I might actually come close to recommending. I wouldn't quite go so far as to call them good as compared to other movies in general, but compared to the rest of the series, they are miles ahead of anything else, to the point where if you were only going to see one or two of them, I would start with these two (and maybe finish with them as well). Coincidentally, this film contains a colonoscopy subplot that suggests it may have actually come before Madea Goes To Jail, as this was referenced in that film as already happening in the past, so maybe watch this one first to avoid any confusion.

Because you know, continuity is so important to the Tyler Perry Cinematic Universe. Clearly.

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