×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

This is not quite "Big Momma's House: The Musical." But maybe it should have been.

With:
Malcolm Turner/Big Momma - Martin Lawrence
Trent/Charmaine - Brandon T. Jackson
Haley - Jessica Lucas
Mia - Michelle Ang
Jasmine - Portia Doubleday
Chirkoff - Tony Curran
Mailman - Ken Jeong
Kurtis Kool - Faizon Love

Attempting to double down on the one-joke premise that profitably propelled two earlier franchise entries, “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” is kind of a drag when it resorts to frantic slapstick and tired action-comedy tropes, but modestly engaging during stretches that suggest the project would have worked better as an exuberant musical. With Martin Lawrence back as the femme-disguised FBI agent he played in “Big Momma’s House” (2000) and “Big Momma’s House 2” (2006), the new sequel should be able to trade on its brand-name appeal for fair-to-middling theatrical B.O. and homevid biz.

Once again, Lawrence’s brash Malcolm Turner dons improbably efficient prosthetics and an amply padded fat suit to disguise himself as Big Momma, a kinda-sorta soul sister of Tyler Perry’s Madea. For “Big Mommas,” Malcolm creatively cross-dresses to go undercover as a housemother at the Georgia Girls School of the Arts, where an informant hid a flash drive containing evidence incriminating a Russian mobster (Tony Curran) before being inconveniently killed.

Complicating the caper, Trent (Brandon T. Jackson), Malcolm’s rebellious 17-year-old stepson, must join his stepdad on campus and pass himself off as Charmaine, Big Momma’s grand-niece, having witnessed the murder of the aforementioned informant.

Director John Whitesell (who helmed “Big Momma’s House 2”) and scripter Matthew Fogel dutifully recycle comic shtick from the previous pics. Predictably, Trent/Charmaine must struggle to maintain his cool and his disguise around scantily clad femme students, and actually falls for a young college-bound beauty (Jessica Lucas) who’s set on earning a music scholarship. Meanwhile, Malcolm/Big Momma tussles with a mean-girl ballet student (Portia Doubleday), and wards off advances from a lovestruck school security guard (an unbilled Faizon Love).

Lawrence comes across as more strident than usual in pic’s early scenes, as he impatiently rousts a mailman (a wasted Ken Jeong) to grab Trent’s college acceptance letter, then condescendingly dismisses his stepson’s desire to become a free-styling rapper instead of a freshman at Duke. Indeed, the actor’s trademark charisma doesn’t begin to shine through until, midway through “Big Mommas,” Lawrence and Jackson share an unexpectedly sweet musical interlude as Malcolm and Trent riff on a classic Temptations tune.

This duet and a handful of other scenes — including an energetic cafeteria-set production number that plays like a “Fame” outtake — likely will make some auds wish the filmmakers had taken even greater advantage of setting their plot in a high school for performing arts students. This is not quite “Big Momma’s House: The Musical.” But maybe it should have been.

In contrast, there’s little that is fresh and nothing at all inventive about scenes involving the brandishing and firing of guns, the unfunny excesses of a putatively comical car chase, and the repetitious sass and brass of Big Momma’s life lessons.

Jackson makes an appealing impression, especially when Trent is able to doff his disguise to woo the charming Lucas. Standouts in the student body include Doubleday, whose character isn’t nearly as bitchy as she initially appears, and Michelle Ang as an unlucky-in-love lovely who gets a crash course in self-respect.

Makeup effects by Spectral Motion are almost too good; it’s more than a little distracting to note how easily Malcolm can hide his mustache with artfully applied prosthetics. Other tech values for this shot-in-Atlanta feature are more than adequate.

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

Production: A 20th Century Fox release of a Regency Enterprises presentation of a New Regency/Friendly Films/Runteldat Entertainment/the Collective production. Produced by David T. Friendly, Michael Green. Executive producers, Arnold Milchan, Martin Lawrence, Jeffrey Kwatinetz, Jeremiah Samuels. Directed by John Whitesell. Screenplay, Matthew Fogel, from a story by Don Rhymer, Fogel, based on characters created by Darryl Quarles.

Crew: Camera (color), Anthony B. Richmond; editor, Priscilla Nedd Friendly; music, David Newman; music supervisors, Dave Jordan, Jojo Villanueva; production designer, Meghan C. Rogers; art director, Mark E. Garner; set decorator, Frank Galline; costume designer, Leah Katznelson; sound (Dolby DTS), Whit Norris; makeup effects, Spectral Motion; prosthetic makeup design and application, Wesley Wofford; special effects coordinator, Bob Shelley; associate producers, William Paul Clark, Darice Rollins; assistant director, Clark; casting, Kim Taylor-Coleman, Alexa L. Fogel. Reviewed at Edwards Greenway Plaza 24, Houston, Feb. 18, 2011. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 107 MIN.

With: Malcolm Turner/Big Momma - Martin Lawrence
Trent/Charmaine - Brandon T. Jackson
Haley - Jessica Lucas
Mia - Michelle Ang
Jasmine - Portia Doubleday
Chirkoff - Tony Curran
Mailman - Ken Jeong
Kurtis Kool - Faizon Love

More Film

  • Cannes Placeholder Red Carpet

    Cannes: KKR and Atwater to Launch Library Pictures, Boost Local-Language Film

    Local-language film making is to get a fillip through the launch of Library Pictures international. The company is backed by a consortium of investors led by media investment firm Atwater Capital and a newly formed Germany-based media company established by KKR. The new firm is intended as a content financing entity to support industry-leading filmmakers [...]

  • After21_0020.ARW

    Sequel to Independent Movie Hit 'After' Launches in Cannes

    “After,” the highest grossing independent film of the year so far, is set to return with a sequel, with stars Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin reprising their roles. Voltage Pictures is selling the new pic in Cannes. The first film, which had a reported production budget of $14 million, grossed more than $50 million [...]

  • Liam Gallagher and Son shopping at

    Cannes: Screen Media Buys 'Liam Gallagher: As It Was' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Screen Media has acquired North American rights to Charlie Lightening and Gavin Fitzgerald’s feature documentary “Liam Gallagher: As It Was.” The film follows the former Oasis frontman as he finds himself on the periphery of the rock ‘n’ roll world after years spent at the white hot center of the music world. Screen Media will [...]

  • La Casa de Papel Netflix

    Madrid Region Booms as an International Production Hub

    Madrid is booming as never before in its 125-year film history; arguably, no other European site is currently transforming so quickly into a global production hub. A 20-minute drive north of the Spanish capital, a large white-concrete hanger has been built beside the Madrid-Burgos motorway, at the entrance to Tres Cantos, a well-heeled satellite village and industrial [...]

  • Emirati Comedy

    Cannes: Stuart Ford's AGC Takes World Sales on Emirati Comedy 'Rashid and Rajab'

    Stuart Ford’s AGC International sales arm has taken global distribution rights outside the Middle East to Dubai-set concept comedy “Rashid and Rajab” which will be hitting movie theaters in the region starting in June. The deal between the film’s production company Image Nation Abu Dhabi and AGC, which have a close rapport, was signed in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content