Film Reviews

"Madea’s Big Happy Family" Too Preachy and Cynical, Even for Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry returns to transferring his own stage work to the screen, donning once again the Lane Bryant floral prints that have made his millions. Like its predecessors, this Madea film features a saintly matriarch (Loretta Devine), a vilified bourgie princess, emasculated husbands, trifling heifers, a lengthy church scene, last-minute revelations about childhood-sexual abuse, a maternity truth-bomb, and the title character’s slaps and sass.

The melodramatic messages also remain the same: Get right with the Lord, open up about those shameful family secrets so the healing can begin, teach those kids to stop being so damn disrespectful. But the amount of clowning and nonsense in Madea’s Big Happy Family—excessive even by Perry’s standards—all but muffles the community-outreach function (which also includes a brief mention of the dangers of diabetes) his films have always served. Too lazy (and, it seems, cynical) to give his audiences any more than he thinks they want, Perry appears to have given up on making a coherent movie altogether. No thank yer.

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Melissa Anderson is the senior film critic at the Village Voice, for which she first began writing in 2000. Her work also appears in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.