Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Directed by: John Whitesell Cast: Martin Lawrence, Brandon T. Jackson, Portia Doubleday, Faizon Love, Jessica Lucas Running Time: 1 hr 47 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: February 18, 2011
PLOT: After his son (Jackson) witnesses a murder, FBI agent Malcolm Turner (Lawrence) sends his son to the Georgia Girls School for Arts. There, they disguise themselves as two women, whilst trying to find evidence related to the murder case.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Unless you're a die hard fan of Martin Lawrence, Big Mommas is bound to be a disappointment, probably even for those who think that cross-dressing movies are funny.
EXPECTATIONS: This wasn't screened for critics, which is never a good sign (like an idiot, I caught the first showing this morning). The Big Momma franchise (yeah, it's a franchise now) isn't one of the top regarded series of its kind - and this is not the kind of sequel a lot of people would be demanding. Still, this looked like it might've been at least amusing. I was curious as to what bounds the humor would set for itself, and also as to whether double the cross-dressing means double the Freudian elements buried beneath this comedy.
Martin Lawrence as Big Momma/Malcolm: Dressing up as an old black woman appears to be routine business for him, as he hardly even bothers to discuss past jobs. Whereas some people would be scarred by such an action, Malcolm seems to have accepted it. Lawrence's facial expressions don't indicate the some complacency - he looks so uninvolved. Probably daydreaming about making a slightly more relevant movie like Bad Boys 3, Lawrence lacks any charm as Big Momma, and isn't funny in or out of the costume. Lawrence's lack of enthusiasm for the character is obvious, and the audience identifies with it immediately. Score: 2
Brandon T. Jackson as Trent/Charmaine: He adds a younger spin to the "going undercover" responsibility, but he has one weakness: his female classmate, Haley (Jessica Lucas). Trent goes through his own identity crisis as he starts to reconsider being apart of the ego glamorization that makes up most of hip-hop culture. As for offering laughs, this whippersnapper of a rapper fails, even when the movie thinks that whenever someone slaps him on the head its funny. How unfortunate is this lame character? Well, Jackson himself is twenty-six years old. Here, he's trying to play a high school senior who is seventeen. Score: 2
Rest of Cast: Portia Doubleday (the dreamy blonde from Youth In Revolt) has a flat role here as a prissy girl with an attitude problem, even as she leads "The DIVAS," a weird dorm cult that honors "the best artists in the school." Faizon Love makes appearances in a lot of crappy comedies, but he can't do anything to help this one improve. It would be nice to see Faizon and Lawrence work together in a comedy - having it be in a Big Momma movie isn't the right choice though. Score: 3
TALKING: When dressed up as Big Momma, Malcolm tries to provide the young girls he watches over with grandmotherly advice, but it doesn’t seem to come from the heart – just him trying to keep up his appearance (he doesn’t say anything half as “wise” to his son). While it is true that pretty girls can sometimes disrupt the circuit between our brain and mouth, Trent seems to say “DAMN!!!” whenever something catches him off guard (which is a lot). There are a few references to early hip-hop in the dialogue, with the utilization of one-liners like "Whoops! There it is!" and "Mama said knock you out!" Score: 2
SIGHTS: The costuming logic is completely unexplained until briefly at the end, and even then it doesn't make much sense. The disguises are used so nonchalantly, even though they look a bit complicated to just take on and take off. It's pointless of the movie to withhold that information, especially when it would give a little boost to the entire flick's IQ. Score: 3
SOUNDS: Though the soundtrack does feature a tune by Kelis and a couple performed by Brandon Jackson, the choices are mostly a bit old school. "Papa's Got A Rolling Stone" by The Temptations is used for a random dance number, while "Maniac" by Michael Sembello is used similarly to its appearance in Dance Flick. Jackson's own original tracks for the movie are OK, including the recurring "Lyrical Miracle" tune. His impromptu duet with love interest Haley is totally phony, but at least the song is listenable. During the end credits, a rap music video plays, featuring eight bars rapped by Big Momma. It didn't keep people from walking out once the movie itself was over. Score: 4
BEST SCENE: My one laugh from the entire movie came from Faizon Love's reaction to Big Momma's unveiling her true identity. I am ashamed that it happened, but "Not again!" caught me off guard for some reason.
ENDING: Neither of the mommas die in the end, which I suppose leaves room open for a sequel.
QUESTIONS: Why is Portia Doubleday playing with toilet paper when her character is introduced? How does Trent get into a school towards the end of the year, and wouldn’t he have to audition? Did the disrobing of Big Momma show off Lawrence’s penis? Why don’t Haley or Trent text each other? What is this, the 90’s? Would Haley really do something that drastic to get accepted into some social club? Did people actually laugh on set when this was being filmed? I can only imagine there being dead silence during some of these gags.
REWATCHABILITY: Ugh, no. Why would you even ask that? Come on, man. Not funny.
America’s love affair with overweight transvestites descends to miserable levels with Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, a movie that lacks so much humor it can’t even be laughed at. Comedic elements that might have been “outrageous” in something gender bending like Mrs. Doubtfire are completely vanilla here; all gags are easily expected. The same can be said for the story’s direction, which exists simply to put these cheaply created characters into “wacky” situations – but it can’t even get that right. What's considered "wacky," like Malcolm having a high speed chase with a mailman played by Ken Jeong, or Big Momma playing "Twister" with Faizon's love character, is undeniably yawn-worthy.
The lack of satisfaction that this movie offers (on the poster, it looks like something I’ve had a nightmare about) can only be described as super size. It’s the kind of popcorn movie that has you hoping a rogue kernel will choke you midway through the film, giving you a good excuse to ditch the flick and never return. Because you died.
FINAL SCORE: 2/10