Monday, February 23, 2009

AB Goes To The Movies: Madea Goes To Jail.

If you've followed this blog for any period of time, you prolly know that I'm not the biggest fan of Tyler Perry. I think his movies are a cinematic exercise in gluttony, rife with the most rank stereotypes of people of color, and riddled with scatological humor, all wrapped up in an unsavory layer of superficial spirituality. After blowing $40 on The Family That Preys, I promised to never see another of his films.

On a loosely related note, I am married.

So, as I'm sitting watching the previews before this movie started, I made a serious mental note to turn my brain all the way off. Just as I incessantly hate on godawful movies here at, I can seldom retain my venom while in theaters. This inevitably pisses off my wife, which just compounds the blown $40. So, I made the choice to keep my pithy comments locked deep inside, and try to really enjoy Madea Goes To Jail, for the sake of household harmony if little else.

As you might imagine, Madea Goes To Jail finds the eponymous protagonist behind bars for some serious anger control issues. Like most movies, this one takes a somewhat unrelated plotline and clumsily weaves it around the bumbling actions of the crossdressing Perry. This sidescript involves Joshua Hardaway, a career-minded assistant DA (Derek Luke) whose picture perfect engagement to an equally ambitious attorney (Ion Overman of Showtime's The L Word) is interrupted when a past acquaintance shows up in the courtroom. A saucy hooker named Candy (The Cosby Show's Keisha Knight-Pulliam) with a nasty heroin addiction seems to know Josh from a prior life. Guilt-ridden from a past secret he and Candy share, Josh goes into fullblown Captain-Save-A-Hoe mode to help rescue her from her demons.

Just in case you're somehow unfamiliar with the E40 classic I just name dropped, acquaint yourself. Lovely.

Anyways, if you've seen one Tyler Perry movie, you have officially seen them all, so I don't even need to tell you how this baby will end. The oh-so-nice-and-handsome guy will get the girl he really deserves. The snobbish light-skinnded chick will get her comeuppance. Madea will get some laughs. You'll go home snickering and forget the whole ordeal by Monday morning. Rinse and repeat.

I guess I can see why folks enjoy these sorts of movies. I admittedly didn't laugh much, but it shole' did feel good to see all dem' coloreds on de' big screen.

Even with my brain on standby, a couple of things were pretty evident. Some of ya'll have mused that Tyler Perry have some issues with women in the past. Others have noted that the only men of character in TP's films is usually TP. Many even expressed dismay that he spends so much time in a dress. All these patterns hold true, but I noted an added wrinkle in this one: all the evil characters were white. Erry one of em'. The butch jailhouse bully. The snooty K-Mart shopper. The johns who pick up and abuse Candace on the strip. Even Josh's fiancee, who's light-bright, and damn near white herself turns out to be an evil wench.

Perhaps the man has a new issue. Postracial my a$$.

Lets be clear about a couple of things. Tyler Perry's movies will never be considered Oscar quality, and are little more than disposable entertainment that serves as a nice 90 minute diversion from erryday life. There's not really anything wrong with that. Just cause I don't particularly care for this genre of film doesn't mean it's a bad way for someone to blow an afternoon. Reality is, he found a niche (black church-themed comedies) and has perfected a money making formula. For all its detractors, the movie made over $40M this weekend alone. Chew on that.

Final Verdict: Hate on the man all you want, but where I come from, that's called a come-up. You don't have to like it, but you do have to respect it. Not many people could pull $41M with a no-name cast in this economy. Give the man his props, already. 2 Stars (Out Of 5)

Question: Have you seen Madea Goes To Jail? What did you think?

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