The most recent in this series of outstanding American cinema is called Madea's Big Happy Family. Assuming you're a newbie to this genre, Happy Family is like a case study in why Tyler Perry should really hang up the dress and pumps for once and for all. The eponymous protagonist finds herself trying to rescue the tattered family of her niece Shirley (Loretta Devine) after she gets diagnosed with terminal cancer. And boy is Shirley's family screwed up. Byron (
None of the kids gets along with each other either, which makes Shirley's task of informing them of her impending demise that much more difficult. It's waaay too much drama for one dying woman to handle, so Madea steps in with her patented brand of homespun wit and wisdom. And physical threats of course, because other than Jesus, slapping a child silly is clearly the only way to make a 10 year old act right. Madea-regulars like Cora, Mr. Brown, and Aunt Bam round out the cast of characters with their own special blend of coonery. It's like Amos and Andy reincarnated.
It's hard to objectively critique a movie like this, given its target demo and total lack of pretense. A Madea movie isn't meant to be taken seriously, so trying to hold it to some level of celluloid standard is pointless. But it's hard to watch a movie so terribly written with such outrageously one-sided characters and not want to throw your iPad out the window. It's like Perry simply says "f*ck effort, n*ggas is gon' pay to see this anyway!" The dialogue is so bad a 3rd grader could have written it. There are too many "message!" moments about getting tested for prostate cancer, raising your own damn kids, and being a "real man!" that the whole thing felt like a ghetto after school special. Like every TP movie, someone gets raped, because incest is obviously at the root of each and every problem plaguing the black community. Either that, or TP's simply devoid of any other vaguely original dramatic foil. And of course the damn sermonizing and gospel sangin'... Jesus, would they stop with the churchlady pandering already? Come on, Tyler, just try a bit harder.
Strangely the one thing that was dramatically different from every other Madea movie ever made was the whole noble man/cruddy woman dynamic. I actually didn't see this one coming. Every man in the movie is the victim of a shifty, selfish woman. They coulda renamed this one Tyler Perry Presents... B*tches Ain't Shit" and it might have been a bit more accurate.
Of course, watchin a Madea movie isn't meant to be a serious moviegoing experience, so even I realize how pointless my critiques are. These flicks are meant to be a somewhat uplifting 90 minute break from reality, and there's really nothing wrong with that. They have their core audience, and that core audience isn't stupid or uncultured because they want a somewhat uplifting 90 minute break from reality. Maybe it's critics like me who need to fall back and just pretend to laugh.
Because a happy wife makes a happy home, after all.
Final Verdict - We didn't see this in the movies so I'm probably going to be a bit extra generous with my rating because this only cost a few bucks as an iTunes rental. Don't expect greatness because no such thing exists here. If you need a cheap laugh, diversion, I suppose this might could do the trick. 2.5 Stars (Out Of 5)
Question: Did you see Madea's Big Happy Family?!? Am I over analyzing this?
 Yes, I said "might could". Got a problem with that? Meet me outside.