Thursday, August 25, 2011

Madea’s Big Happy Family DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Sixth Madea Adventure Makes Its Way to DVD

This flick is the sixth in the franchise featuring Tyler Perry in drag as America’s sassiest granny. At the point of departure we find Madea’s niece, Shirley (Loretta Devine), being informed by her physician (Philip Anthony-Rodriguez) about a resurgence of the cancer that she’s been fighting for the past seven years.
Despite the dire diagnosis, she declines further treatment, explaining that she’s simply too tired to do another round of chemotherapy. And with just weeks to live, the devoutly-religious Christian resigns herself to the will of the Lord.
What does still matter to her, however, is seeing her children one last time to break the unfortunate news to them in person. The trouble is that each of them is currently consumed by a relationship crisis.
Daughter Tammy (Natalie Desselle) is married to a wimp (Rodney Perry) who lets their smart aleck sons (Stevie Wash, Jr. and Benjamin Aiken) walk all over her. Materialistic middle-child Kimberly (Shannon Kane) cares so much about her high-paying corporate job and the trappings of success that she ignores her toddler and takes her patient hubby (Isaiah Mustafa) for granted.
And 18 year-old Byron (Bow Wow), Shirley’s youngest, is being pressured by his gold digger of a girlfriend (Lauren London) to supplement his modest income by selling drugs on the street again. Adding to the recent-parolee’s angst is the baby-mama drama surrounding his hypercritical ex’s (Teyana Taylor) demands for more child support.
Care to hazard a guess whose help Shirley enlists to slap some sense, both literally and figuratively, into this dysfunctional menagerie? That would be Madea. Upping the ante in terms of sheer frivolity, she proceeds to browbeat her misbehaving extended family into shape in her own inimitable style.
Along for the ride purely for comic relief are a couple of embarrassing relatives: Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) and Mr. Brown (David Mann). The former is a feisty septuagenarian who smokes marijuana and flirts shamelessly (“Are you married?” “Are you straight?”) with younger men. The latter is a garishly-dressed master of the malapropism who somehow convincingly confuses the words “prostitute” with “prostate,” “carbon peroxide” with “carbon monoxide,” and even “colonoscopy” with “Coca-Cola.”
Such distracting buffoonery notwithstanding, Madea miraculously manages to straighten everybody out, and right in the nick of time for the uplifting, closing credits Kodak moment. Melodramatic tough love as meaningful group therapy!

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and drug use.
Running time: 107 Minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Four featurettes: “By-Reen: The Baby-Mama from Hell,” “Ties That Bind,” “Madea’s Family Tree” and “Brown Calls Maury.”

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