MADEA'S FAMILY REUNION (Tyler Perry). 107 minutes. Opens Friday (February 24). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: N Rating: N
Tyler Perry - writer, director, producer, actor - once again dons dress and swinging boobs as Mabel "Madea" Simmons, an aging family matriarch who's as generous with her smacks as she is with her mouthy remarks.
In this follow-up to Diary Of A Mad Black Woman, Madea finds herself planning a reunion and taking in a brand new foster hellion ( Keke Palmer ). Then there's the approaching marriage of her niece Lisa ( Rochelle Aytes ), caught in the machinations of a self-serving mother ( Lynn Whitfield ) and a physically abusive fiancé ( Blair Underwood ). And for those suffering from the same brand of cinematic ADD as Perry, Madea's other niece, single mother Vanessa ( Lisa Arrindell Anderson ), is reluctant to get involved with a bus-driver-cum-painter ( Boris Kodjoe ).
Perry applies the same frantic approach he used in Diary, keeping audiences from getting emotionally attached. He simultaneously explores romance, family and unity in the black community - all through a grossly tangled heap of skimpy scenes and melodramatic revelations deserving of a "dum-dum-dummmm" musical cue.
The film wavers uncertainly between comedy, romance and drama, and the characters are stereotypes. Underwood takes cues from Sleeping With The Enemy's school of villainy, Aytes weeps dramatically, and Perry delivers the comedy, fart jokes and all. By the end, the drama itself becomes comic fodder. Throw in some histrionics, some decidedly stupid revelations and viola! Celluloid slop.
The film is much like a family reunion itself: messy, melodramatic and tiresome as hell. Can we go home now?