At one point during the play “Look Homeward Angel,” based upon Thomas Wolfe’s superbly written autobiographical novel of the same name, Oliver, the eccentric patriarch of the Gant family around whom the story revolves, says, “Merciful God, what a travesty! That it should come to this!” And that’s precisely what I found myself thinking as I watched the irrefragably inane, vapidly vacuous, horrendously hackneyed, and ludicrously lackluster “Big Momma’s: Like Father, Like Son.”
I guess it’s a good thing to suffer through a film like this every so often because it makes you realize how truly idiotic movies can be. At the same time, however, I marvel at the fact that there must be a market for stuff like this because this film was No. 5 at the box office last weekend, and with movie ticket prices being what they are these days, I simply cannot imagine laying out the money to watch something so insultingly stupid. But maybe that’s just my problem.
This is Martin Lawrence’s third time to don the fat suit and waddle around as FBI agent Malcolm Turner’s alter ego, Big Momma. Unfortunately the third time is no charm because this film is no better than its two predecessors, and if you have seen one of these debacles, you definitely have seen them all.
The third chapter of Big Momma’s pointlessly predictable predicaments finds Malcolm rejoicing because he has just learned that his son, Trent (Brandon T. Jackson) has been accepted at Duke University. But Trent has a different plan for his future. Instead of going off to college, Trent aspires to become a rapper, and to this end he wants Malcolm to sign a contract that will allow him to pursue his chosen field of endeavor. Malcolm flatly refuses to do this and heads out to track down some criminals, something he describes as “going to his grind.” Trent is heartbroken until one his friends suggests that he approach Malcolm at his “grind,” and he will be so distracted that he’ll sign the form for Trent.
Trent follows Malcolm to a warehouse where a gun battle ensues, and Trent witnesses a murder. Malcolm and his son manage to flee from the scene safely, but the killer has seen Trent and vows to track him down and kill him. There’s also the matter of a flash drive that contains incriminating evidence Malcolm can use to put the killer and his cohorts away. The word is that it is hidden somewhere at a girls school for performing arts, and so Malcolm goes undercover as Big Momma accompanied by Trent, who poses as Big Momma’s niece Charmaine. Big Momma gets a job at the school, and Charmaine enrolls as a student. Now we have the tired old plot of males posing as females among females.
So what is it about the Big Momma movies that appeals to audiences throughout the world? I honestly don’t know, but Lawrence may have a voiced part of the explanation in the film’s production notes.
“I think everybody knows a Big Momma. She might not look like the character I play, but everyone has a sister or aunt or grandma who keeps it honest and has a really loving heart. And those are the things I love about Big Momma.”
Martin also explained what made him decide to make another Big Momma movie.
“I love playing Big Momma, but it was really the energy of the script and having Brandon as my partner in the story that brought me back. Malcolm looks at Trent as a son but Trent is becoming a man and wants to do his own thing. Everyone can relate to that.”
Most of the attempts at humor in this film are so trite that they fall completely flat because you have seen them all before. But those who enjoy typical slapstick gags may find some laughs, but the whole thing did nothing for me. But then watching Lawrence parade around in a fat suit isn’t my idea of something that’s particularly funny. And how often can he do this before people finally become bored with it?
I rather imagine that the same people who like the Big Momma films also enjoy Tyler Perry’s Madea movies. Actually you could put Big Momma in a Madea film and vice versa, and probably no one would notice any difference. And if the day ever comes when Lawrence and Perry team up for a film titled “Big Momma Meets Madea,” I’m telling you right now that I won’t be one of those lined up at the box office to see it.
If Lawrence’s most recent film has any redeeming factor at all, it is the presence of the stunningly beautiful Jessica Lucas, who plays Trent’s love interest, Haley, in the movie. Not only is she gorgeous, but she also has some acting talent, and that makes her stand out even more. If it weren’t for Lucas, I would have given the film the dreaded goose egg, but because of her talent, it gets a final score of three.
And there’s one thing I can promise you. If Lawrence goes on to make four or five or however many more Big Momma movies, this is absolutely last one I will ever see. For me, Big Momma now rests in piece.