March 2, 2006

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Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion (PG-13)
reviewed by Amy Diaz

Tyler Perry whips out the saggy-boobs-having fat suit and the sassy advice for Madea’s Family Reunion, sequel to last year’s astoundingly successful Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

I say “astoundingly” because the unsubtle preachiness, the somewhat amateurish story telling, the very overheated acting and the squirm-inducing God talk of Diary of a Mad Black Woman (all of which return for this movie) left me relatively unimpressed with the movie. Also, I thought at the time, why introduce the Big Momma’s House-ness of Perry in drag (he plays the rotund Madea as well as her cranky brother and at least one other relative) into the otherwise Lifetime-like story of a woman wronged by her husband and left to make her way in the world on her own? There was, apparently, a large audience who felt otherwise. Large enough that Diary of a Mad Black Woman was, in financial terms, a My Big Fat Greek Wedding for the older female Christian African-American movie-going set. Hence the sequel, which has already topped the box office in its opening weekend.

This time, we have a new set of troubled women, each some vague relation to the formidable Madea, who need down-home advice and a place to crash. There’s Lisa (Rochelle Aytes), all set to marry a rich but abusive husband (Blair Underwood). There’s Vanessa (Lisa Arrindell Anderson), the single mother of two kids who is recovering from the world’s suckiest childhood and has some serious trust issues when it comes to men. There’s their horrible dragon lady mother (Lynn Whitfield), who doesn’t want Madea’s help but is looking for another money pot to dip into. Madea also takes in a runaway teenager and shows her how to act right, stay in school and dress less like a homeless person. Late in the movie, when the melodrama is at its peak, Maya Angelou and Cicely Tyson show up to deliver lines about respect and dignity that come straight from an Oprah production of a Hallmark made-for-TV movie.

And between heavy scenes of such woe are the fart jokes.

I don’t get this movie and this movie does not care. Perry knows he has an audience, he knows what they want to see and he gives it to them— believability and critics be damned.

D

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