'Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween': Film Review

Courtesy of Lionsgate
Somebody pass me that apple with the razor blade in it.

Perry puts on the fatsuit again for his latest look at Madea's clan.

It probably goes without saying that there are no scares in Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, the latest vehicle for Perry's cross-dressing claim to fame. And after this many films and stage plays in Perry's poor-man's-Klumps franchise, a viewer can probably guess exactly how many laughs he or she will get from it, too. Either you're part of the fan base that keeps this staggeringly untalented director making movies, or you can barely imagine finding him funny. Representing the former group in a Manhattan multiplex Thursday night, a woman who had chuckled five times or so and truly laughed once walked out saying, "That's the best Tyler Perry yet." How many times did she laugh at the others?

The picture begins with three back-to-back dialogue scenes whose inert direction makes Kevin Smith look like a dazzling cinematic stylist: Characters stand or sit in place talking at each other while the camera cuts from one medium shot to the next. If the idea is to free the viewer from visual distraction and focus attention on the dialogue, someone should've thought to write something funny for the actors to say.

The premise: Foolishly hoping to please his implausibly bratty daughter Tiffany (Diamond White) on her 18th birthday, Brian (Perry) has thrown her the same square "surprise" party she gets every year. Meanwhile, Brian's implausibly petty ex-wife Debrah (Taja V. Simpson) has bought the girl a car.

Permissive Debrah also tells her barely-legal daughter that it's totally fine to go to an all-night Halloween rager being thrown by a local fraternity at a secluded lake famous as the site of a mass murder. This annoys Brian, as it would any actual human. But having just been emasculated by his ex and a quartet of senior citizens, Brian simply watches Tiffany drive off and does nothing.

Ah yes — those senior citizens: Two are played by Perry, who dons pounds of latex to play the titular old bat Madea and her brother Joe. Joe is Brian's father, and spends most of the time talking about his glory days as a pimp. "Your mama was a hard-working ho'," he tells Brian. Given the nature of Joe's patter — he finds not one but two occasions to make denture-free-fellatio jokes — one wonders about the movie's obvious dubbing, in which many instances of "damn" and a few other curses are replaced by "darn" and the like. Whose perverse family values are we conforming to here?

Along those lines, viewers may be surprised how tame the famously colorful Madea is in this picture. Anyone wandering in with no prior knowledge would have a hard time guessing why her name is on the movie. She's absent for much of the film, as it follows Tiffany's lakeside outing with the bros of Datum Tau Rapus: Dressed in a getup that exposes criminal amounts of cleavage, she seems eager to do anything to be accepted by these lunkheads, for reasons that are never hinted at. Viewers of a certain bent will quietly reimagine these scenes as the hero's journey of Gabriella (Inanna Sarkis), Tiffany's buzzkill buddy who has no patience for the leering dudes and doesn't want to be alone with them at 3 a.m. in a place famous for slasher scenarios.

When the slashers do arrive, they're as wild and terrifying as the pimply kids scaring sixth-graders at your local PTA's haunted house. They rev their chainsaws and stand still; they give chase but then disappear conveniently when our heroes need to pause and bicker amongst themselves. They're as fake as fake can be, of course, but the movie might have been playful enough to pretend otherwise for a while. In the end, the scariest thing about Boo 2! is the idea that A Madea Easter might be next.

Production companies: Tyler Perry Studios, Lionsgate
Distributor: Lionsgate
Cast: Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Taja V. Simpson, Diamond White, Inanna Sarkis, Tito Ortiz
Director-screenwriter: Tyler Perry
Producers: Ozzie Areu, Will Areu, Tyler Perry, Mark E. Swinton
Director of photography: Richard J. Vialet
Production designer: Paul Wonsek
Costume designer: Crystal Hayslett
Editor: Larry Sexton
Composer: Philip White
Casting director: Kim Coleman

Rated PG-13, 100 minutes