Thanks, Chris Rock. Thanks a lot.
The idea for Tyler Perry’s latest outing as his drag character Madea was inspired by a fake reference in Rock’s movie Top Five. Supposedly, the title so tickled the folks at Lionsgate that they asked Perry to base a film on it. So now we have Boo! A Madea Halloween, which should scare up decent box-office returns through the titular holiday and, considering its obviously low budget, make a tidy profit in the process.
At this point, reviewing a Madea film is like a food critic reviewing the fare at McDonald’s. By any objective standard, it’s subpar, made of cheap ingredients and panders to the undiscriminating. But millions of people seem to love it, and happily come back for more.
The latest adventure involving the sassy, tough-talking matriarch involves 17-year-old Tiffany (Diamond White), daughter of Madea’s mild-mannered nephew Brian (Perry, again). Brian forbids Tiffany from attending a frat party with her friend Aday (Liza Koshy), and enlists his extended family of Madea, Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis), Hattie (Patrice Lovely) and Joe (Perry, yet again) to babysit. But the resourceful teen sneaks out of the house, forcing Madea and her female cronies to head to the frat house where, suffice it to say, hilarity does not ensue. Unless, that is, you think Madea exposing her breasts to the horrified young men is too funny for words.
Dutifully living up to its title, the film introduces mild horror elements, with Madea and her cohorts coming into contact with supernatural phenomena, an evil clown and zombies who chase them through the woods. Although there’s a long cinematic tradition of mixing comedy with scares to excellent effect — Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein being a prime example — this lackluster effort manages to be neither funny nor scary.
Not that it will matter to the franchise’s fans, who will no doubt roar at Aunt Bam stealing candy from a young trick-or-treater and gleefully showing off her medical marijuana card; the elderly Joe smoking a joint and referring to playing with himself; jokes about prostate exams; and the oldsters merrily cackling about the benefits of physically abusing children.
When Brian complains to his uncle Joe about being thrown off the roof when he was four years old, Joe accusingly asks him, “Did you die?”
Attempting to reach younger audiences, Perry has cast several social media stars as the fraternity brothers, and a young female twerker who’s had millions of views on YouTube. While they all look like they’re having a fun time, whatever talents they may possess don’t translate to the big screen.
Shot sitcom-style with multiple cameras and minimal takes, the film looks atrocious. It’s disheartening that Perry, for all his obvious smarts and savvy, is unwilling to up his cinematic game. There’s no arguing with the massive success he’s had in film, television and theater, and he’s clearly giving the people what they want. But the puerile humor that he continues to peddle makes awfully depressing viewing for those who don’t find the concept of a large, middle-aged man in drag inherently funny.
Production companies: Lionsgate, Tyler Perry Studios
Cast: Tyler Perry, Cassi David, Patrice Lovely, Yousef Eraket, Lexy Panterra, Andre Hall, Brock O’Hurn, Liza Koshy, Diamond White, Kian Lawley, J.C. Caylen, Jimmy Tatro, Tyga, Bella Thorne
Director-screenwriter: Tyler Perry
Producers: Tyler Perry, Ozzie Areu
Director of photography: Richard Vialet
Art director: Shirley Inget
Editor: Larry Sexton
Costume designer: Crystal Hayslett
Composer: Elvin Ross
Casting: Kim Taylor-Coleman
Rated PG-13, 103 minutes