Big Momma's House 2

Reviewed By Doug Bentin
Posted 02/21/06 17:20:35

"Another sequel. Here today, gone today."
2 stars (Pretty Crappy)

When “Big Momma’s House” opened in 2000, Martin Lawrence hadn’t been in a hit since “Bad Boys” five years previously. Now, a sequel has arrived and guess what? Lawrence hasn’t had a hit—with the exception of “Bad Boys II,” hardly a Martin Lawrence vehicle—since “Big Momma’s House.”

In fact, this is his 18th. film and only four of the previous ones were hits, and among them only the first Big Momma was a real Martin Lawrence movie.

So Big Momma returns in an attempt to resurrect Lawrence’s movie career. Once again he plays F.B.I. agent Malcolm Turner. Malcolm has given up being a field agent so he can remain safe for his wife and children. And he hates it.

When his former partner is killed and Malcolm is told to stay out of the investigation—sure, like that ever works—he dusts off his disguise as a fat, elderly woman everyone calls Big Momma and cons his way into a housekeeper/nanny job for Tom Fuller (Mark Moses), a man under investigation. This guy has a means of hacking into every government website so he can destroy the world, or some such humbug. It’s a McGuffin so no one cares.

The central theme of the film is family togetherness generated by improved parenting skills. I know, I know—it makes me grunt, too. If dad were only home more often; if mom only cared as much for her kids as she does for community events; if the Turners only had an F.B.I. agent in drag as a nosy old woman around the house to show the young girl how to be a cheerleader by making age-inappropriate dance moves, and teach the 15-year old daughter that all boys want only one thing, what a glorious world this would be. Hell, he even teaches the pet Chihuahua to be happy by getting it drunk on Vodka. What a man.

The movie is directed by John Whitesell, trained in TV sitcoms. It shows in his reliance on the tried and true—pratfalls, reaction shots, and the worst Mickey Mouse musical score since Our Gang was hot.

Lawrence is one of those guys who would have been, in the old days, a solid character actor appearing in 8-12 movies a year. But then “Animal House” happened in 1978 and suddenly the comic character actors were all seen as potential headliners and a tsunami of third-rate comedies starring Chevy Chase, John Candy, Pauley Shore, David Spade, Chris Kattan, Rob Schneider and their ilk began glutting the googleplexes of America. No nation has karma that bad.

So many black comics, when they enter movies, want to be Richard Pryor. There’s an underlying edginess and anger to their performances that, eventually, just survives in their standup routines. So far, Chris Rock hasn’t succumbed to the Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence desire to be loved by everyone. Of course, not every black comic needs to be on the screen making white viewers a little nervous, but it’s good for us. We need it.

I found the picture barely watchable because Lawrence is such a sharp mimic as Big Momma. He must be channeling Jamie Foxx’s grandmother.

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