Logline: In order to capture a murderous bank robber, L.A. cop Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) must travel to rural Georgia and pose as the robber’s ex-girlfriend’s fat grandmother.
Ten years ago, a desperate Martin Lawrence reached way back into the annals (huhuh…annals) of comedy and pulled out a turd called “Big Momma’s House.” It made a sizable amount of money, and now the third film in the series has finally gone into production. Now, I have a bigger question than the three or four I usually present:
Do you really want me to tell you what I thought while I was re-viewing this film? I had to suffer through it again for the good of this project, but I simply cannot muster up the energy to discuss it with any kind of analytic interest. In a certain way, it is fascinating in an anthropological way how people thought this funny, but that means I would have to consider it in a way I really don’t want to. So I’ll answer my first question, and annihilate the remaining three in order to save my brain.
Is It Better Or Worse Than I Remember?
Technically, worse. But only on a technicality. I think I hated it just as much ten years ago as I do now, but I accepted its mediocrity at the time. Either I was subjecting myself to constant shitty comedy at the time, or I simply pushed it out of my mind moments later as I had double-billed it with “Scary Movie,” which I still think is a fucking riot (and will re-view next month). I don’t really care to find out.
What’s Better About The Film?
What’s Worse About The Film?
What Did I Learn From This Experience?
There. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way thanks to my desire to keep my sanity, I can have fun with the rest of the article and amuse myself in ways I consider funnier than Martin Lawrence in a bad fat suit. It’s time foooooooor…
- For most of the film’s running time, all I could think was this exchange from an early episode of “Family Guy.”British Gentleman #1: Do you know what’s very, very funny? A man dressed in women’s clothing.
British Gentleman #2: Hmm, yes, quite. Ripping good laugh.
British Gentleman #1: Mmm, yes.
- Director Raja Gosnell, who has since infected the world with the two live-action Scooby Doo movies, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and the upcoming Smurfs adaptation, shouldn’t have inspired any kind of confidence in me with his directorial work. However, he worked as an editor for much of his career, focused especially on the 90s work of one Chris Columbus. This means that he edited “Mrs. Doubtfire.” And this means that HE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER! He spent weeks and perhaps months tinkering with every bit of glory that is that movie, cutting and splicing every single moment of comedy so it works just right, getting the comic timing and emotional beats just right. How could he have fallen so far? “Mrs. Doubtfire” is everything “Big Momma’s House” is not. It’s tender, funny and believable. But Martin Lawrence’s film is cheap, bare-bones and stupid.
- I have a love-hate relationship with Martin Lawrence, but it comes down very easily to format. I think his stand-up comedy is terrific, transcendent, edgy, nasty and gut-bustingly funny. But I think his film work is crap, with the exception of “Nothing To Lose.” “Life” is sort of a dramedy, so that exists elsewhere. Where does this dichotomy come into play? I would probably understand this more had I seen even one episode of his sitcom “Martin,” which has now gained a legacy as a classic of the 1990s. One day, I’ll get to you, “Martin.” Maybe I can fit you into my current second go-round of my American Television Chronology Project. (Ask me if you’re interested in what this means. I think it’s kind of fascinating, and would love for more people to participate.)
- This movie continues to prove my opinion that comedy-thriller mixtures are one of the most difficult genres to pull off. And yet, there are so damned many of them. It seems they died out around the turn of the millennium, but that may be just because I stopped watching them. If you want to see it done right, the obvious reference is “48 Hours.” Check it out, then compare it to your memory of this crap.
- Future Oscar nominees Paul Giamatti and Terrence Howard show up in supporting roles, and I’m so glad they found a way out of such dreck. Although TeHow is starting to garner a reputation, leaving him to be ousted from “Iron Man 2.” (The marquee at the local Neptune Theatre here in Seattle? “Iron Man 2. Terrence Howard 0.) Somebody should let him know that if he keeps up with his [albeit alleged] funky attitude, he could end up back where he began — playing a thankless role as the villain in a bad cop comedy.
- Martin Lawrence is really shiny.
- Anthony Anderson is actually one of the few people to survive this movie with his dignity intact. I’m shocked to say he was pretty amusing. (So far, he’s proven himself as an obnoxious comic actor, but a borderline-great dramatic actor, as evidenced by his terrifying stint on “The Shield.”)
- Okay, I will admit to laughing once during the movie.[Hattie Mae finds her lover in bed with another woman.]
Ben: Hattie Mae, I can explain.
Hattie Mae: Explain it to the fat end of my baseball bat!
- Going back to “Scary Movie” for a second, there is something that has always impressed me. Part of the way through the film, in their send-up of the “Scream 2” prologue, Regina Hall gets stabbed by the audience members for talking in a movie theatre, and with each stab, they blame her for ruining their moviegoing experiences. One curses her for ruining “Schindler’s List,” another for “Boogie Nights.” And then, finally, the Pope stabs her, blaming her for ruining “Big Momma’s House,” which had only come out a month earlier. (And, as aforementioned, a movie I had seen not two hours earlier.) It’s a nice bit of foresight on the part of the Wayans Brothers, and while I can curse that family for many things (*coughWhiteChickscough*),I give them props for that one. Nice prescient touch, guys.
- My wife came in around two-thirds of the way through the movie.Wife: How’s “Big Momma’s House”?
Me: I’m wondering how this made almost $120 million domestic.
Wife: Tyler Perry wasn’t around yet.I think that sums up this one pretty nicely.