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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Martin Lawrence, Brandon T. Jackson, Faizon Love, Max Casella
DIRECTED BY
John Whitesell
SCREENPLAY
Don Rhymer, Matthew Fogel, Darryl Quarles (Characters)
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
107 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
20th Century Fox
DVD EXTRAS
On "The Motherload" Edition, you get an extended cut with lots of extras!
 "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son" Review 
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Admit it. You cringed when you first found out that there would be a third Big Momma film. Even if you hadn't seen the abysmal trailer, just the thought of yet another visit by Martin Lawrence to this comic wasteland is enough to make someone shudder.

Seriously. Even the most hardcore Martin Lawrence fans, all 13 of you, couldn't possibly have been looking forward to this retread of a retread that wasn't particularly entertaining the first time around.

But, here we go again.

Lawrence is back as F.B.I. agent Malcolm Turner, who is working a big case while arguing with his son, Trent (Brandon T. Jackson), about his future. Malcolm intends for his son to head off to Duke University, Trent is more interested in a music career.  Unfortunately for Trent, he nags pops one too many times and ends up witnessing a murder when he interrupts a stake-out. Suddenly, he and his father are off and in hiding at, of course, a girls' school for the arts where Malcolm goes back into drag as a Madea style House Mother while Jackson dons the dress as the new girl on campus.

Yes, you know where this is going. You know where every single second of this film is going.

Director John Whitesell and co-writers Matthew Fogel and Don Rhymer try to grab bits and pieces of a Tyler Perry style poignancy and moral-based humor, but it all falls flat mostly because this character and the scenario burned up its welcome with the second Big Momma film. There's nothing in this film that feels fresh, and virtually everything feels familiar and like it has been done previously and much, much better.

Malcolm is pursued by a rotund security guard (Faizon Love), while Trent tries to pursue a pianist (Jessica Lucas) despite being trapped inside his mounds of make-up. The biggest difference, beyond the fact that Tyler Perry's writing is funnier than anything here on his worst day, is that Perry's morality plays actually make sense and maintain a consistency within the arc of the story. Here, however, our two Big Mommas simultaneously live out the very stereotypes the script pretends to preach against whether they be racial, size related, hip hop, blondes or whatever.

The physical slapstick has grown tired and, strangely enough, Lawrence himself even looks a bit tired here with this third version of Big Momma playing out as an even heavier, more disheveled version of herself. It's as if Lawrence isn't even working hard enough to deny that this is nothing but another paycheck film for an actor who isn't seeing too many of those paychecks these days.

Brandon T. Jackson fares a little bit better, though he's not quite convincing as a young man trying to decide between college or real life. At the very least, Jackson's energy is high and his hijinks are occasionally interesting. Here's hoping, however, that this film doesn't represent Lawrence handing off the baton, or is it tiara, to Jackson so that we have to suffer through even more of these films.

Occasionally, you'll hear my fellow critics in the Indiana Film Journalists Association lamenting 20th Century Fox's rather shabby treatment of the Hoosier state in terms of promos and movie screenings. While there's no denying that Fox still considers Indy a lesser market, the real problem may be that Fox keeps producing low-quality cinematic crap like this film that simply isn't worth marketing.

A joyless exercise in money grubbing and lazy filmmaking, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son is the first major theatrical dud to hit theaters in 2011.


© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 
    The Official Rating Guideline
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