BIG MOMMAS:LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
* (out of 5)
February 18, 2011
Martin Lawrence as MALCOLM/BIG MOMMA
Brandon T. Jackson as TRENT/CHARMAINE
Jessica Lucas as HALEY
Michelle Ang as MIA
Portia Doubleday as JASMINE
Emily Rios as ISABELLE
Ana Ortiz as GAIL
Directed by: John Whitesell
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
In my recently-written review of Liam Neeson’s new action flick “Unknown,” I overuse the made-up word “badassery.” As much as “Unknown” is a film that can only be reviewed when referencing other movies, I have now realized that “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” is one that has weird parallels to “Unknown.”
For as much badassery as there is in “Unknown,” there is an equal amount of dumbassery in “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son.” That’s right… I went there. Martin Lawrence and his ilk in this film are all a bunch of dumbasses.
No, I am not channeling Red Foreman from “That 70s Show.” I’m only reacting to the travesty that is the third film in this tired franchise. To make another comparison, while “Unknown” director Jaume Collet-Serra had a stained resume with the “House of Wax” remake and 2009’s terrible non-thriller “Orphan,” “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” director John Whitesell has an equally unimpressive rap sheet. His previous films include “Malibu’s Most Wanted,” “Deck the Halls” and (wait for it…) “Big Momma’s House 2.”
While Collet-Serra defied the odds and made a pretty cool flick, Whitesell is wallowing in his own feces again by directing this sorry excuse for a bad joke of a bad joke.
In what I will now refer to as “The Third Horseman of the Apocalypse,” Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) needs to put his son Trent (Brandon T. Jackson) in witness protection to keep him safe from the Russian mob. Digging into his old bag of tricks, Malcolm breaks out the fat suits and dresses them as women to go undercover at a performing arts school for girls, where critical evidence is hidden.
At this point, I’d say, “And let the hilarity ensue,” but I just can’t bring myself to do that.
Fat suit comedies have become big business for Hollywood, and this installment is one of the worst kind. Make-up effects artists used to take pride in building these prosthetics, but they’ve given up with this movie. At least Jackson looks human, but Lawrence is one of the most terrifying creatures you’re likely to see on screen this year. I thought make-up techniques were supposed to have improved over the past decade. Instead, he looks like a cross between plasticized Joan Rivers and the fat Star Jones.
The characters are downright horrible in the movie. Trent is only concerned about jump-starting his rap career (already not the most original angle for a film like this), and he invites danger upon himself, his family and his friends to do so. The motivations are all over the map, making the sequence of events in the film feel so random because no scene connects to another.
The rest of the cast isn’t anything special, and the love interest for Trent is the normally alluring Jessica Lucas, who just phones in her lines and smiles pretty for the camera. Even the villains are poorly constructed. The lead mobster is named Chirkoff (which, of course, is pronounced like “jerk-off”), but that joke never pays off. Unlike the rather brilliant “MacGruber” from last summer (which had plenty of jokes at the expense of the villain named Dieter von Cunth), it leaves the joke to wither on the vine.
Instead of setting up decent gags, this film is nothing more than a hodgepodge of poorly timed fat-suit slapstick and Martin Lawrence mugging at the camera like Bill Cosby in a 90s-era Jell-O Pudding ad. When it comes to the actual plot, the fat suit in this movie is a metaphor for the film itself. It’s awkward, grotesque, misshapen and full of ugly padding.
If you didn’t get enough of Martin Lawrence in a fat suit with the first two “Big Momma” movies, then you need your head examined. The rest of us can run in terror.