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MOVIE REVIEW

January 27, 2006|Robert Abele | Special to The Times

Taking in the bulbous, dimpled totality of Martin Lawrence's plus-size get-up in "Big Momma's House 2" -- whether in a high-riding one-piece bathing suit or the customary flower print dress -- it's not hard to marvel at the advances in drag technology since Fatty Arbuckle, "Some Like It Hot" and Monty Python. This isn't your father's cross-dressing. At the same time, the science of comedy attains a new level of appreciation, since hardly anything about this sluggish sequel to the 2000 box office hit comes close to being funny.

The premise puts Big Momma -- a.k.a. FBI agent Malcolm Turner, now an expectant father married to Nia Long's character from the first film -- as an undercover nanny in the Orange County home of a suspicious computer-worm creator (Mark Moses), his high-strung wife (Emily Procter) and their neglected kids.

Naturally, saving the day includes fixing a dysfunctional household: think "The Pacifier" with gags about oversize thongs, or "Bringing Down the House" starring a latex-and-foam-enhanced (and considerably less attractive) Queen Latifah.

Ultimately, though, the family film vibe doesn't suit a manic-tempered comic such as Lawrence, whose fat suit and septuagenarian makeup can't hide his obvious boredom in delivering more of the same wheezing insults and down-home advice.

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`Big Momma's House 2'

MPAA rating: PG-13 for some sexual humor and a humorous drug reference

A 20th Century Fox release. Director John Whitesell. Producers David T. Friendly, Michael Green. Screenplay Don Rhymer, based on characters created by Charles Doyle. Cinematographer Mark Irwin. Editor Priscilla Nedd-Friendly. Music George S. Clinton. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.

In general release.

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By the Numbers:

Martin Lawrence

Comedian Martin Lawrence returns to theaters today as an FBI agent deeply undercover - fat suit drag - in "Big Momma's House 2." If the titles below in which he stars or is paired with another actor are any indication, Lawrence for the most part seems to gravitate toward characters who are cops, crooks or the latter masquerading as the former, or variations on that theme.

*--* Film Domestic gross (Year released) (In millions) "Bad Boys II" ('03) $138.6 "Big Momma's House" ('00) 117.6 "Blue Streak" ('99) 68.5 "Bad Boys" ('95) 65.8 "Life" ('99) 63.9 "Nothing to Lose" ('97) 44.5 "National Security" ('03) 36.4 "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" (96) 34.8 "Black Knight" ('01) 33.4 "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" ('01) 32.3

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Sources: Boxofficemojo.com, Times research

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