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Movie review: Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son'

This unfunny, underdeveloped and slapped-together sequel stars Martin Lawrence in drag — again.

February 19, 2011|By Mark Olsen, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Brandon T. Jackson as "Charmaine" and Martin Lawrence as "Big Momma" in "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son."
Brandon T. Jackson as "Charmaine" and Martin Lawrence as "Big… (20th Century Fox )

There are likely numerous reasons for the creation of "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son," a film so drained of entertainment or simple humanity it is difficult to relate to as anything other than industrial artifact.

First and foremost, the two previous installments in the comedy series — featuring Martin Lawrence as an FBI agent who finds himself in situations that demand he wear a latex fat suit with a highly detailed facial prosthetic to imitate an elderly woman — combined made hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide.

Since the release of "Big Momma's House" in 2000, there also has been the rise of the wildly successful Tyler Perry films and his own granny-drag character of Madea, which presumably caused Lawrence at some point to think "Hey, I do that too."

Additionally, Lawrence might have possibly been motivated by a desire to reclaim the crazy that has more recently been usurped by actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, whose Tracy Jordan character on the sitcom "30 Rock" seems partly based on Lawrence.

What "Big Mommas" needs most of all is, in fact, a healthy dose of crazy, some energy, some sense that the people who created it cared in the least about the poor saps who might have to sit through the thing. The film is perfunctory and programmatic from its very start with a bluntly efficient montage of Atlanta locations. From there the setup is quickly established that Lawrence and his teenage stepson (Brandon T. Jackson) must go into hiding dressed as women at an upscale all-girls boarding school.

The bad guys are vaguely foreign, possibly Eastern European, with wobbly accents that don't always match the way they look. The plot engine is something about a missing flash drive with incriminating evidence. (That's as specific as it gets.) After Lawrence's stepson witnesses a murder the villains set their sights on the youngster.

And like that, with a single cut to the pair on an escalator in slow-motion, Lawrence and Jackson are in their drag costumes with no further explanation. (Is that the first step of FBI protocol?) Lawrence, though it is never mentioned, presumably had his costume from the previous films sitting in a closet somewhere. Jackson, however, must have been fitted for a full-face prosthetic mask and padded suit in a scene elided from the film.

An audience is left to imagine on their own the hilarious getting-ready montage that might have been.

The film is credited to director John Whitesell and writers Matt Fogel and Don Rhymer, but it could easily have been created by some sort of auto-pilot algorithm. "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son" is a lifeless piece of pure product, slapped together with haphazard disregard for comedy, storytelling and filmmaking. It is a movie, in a very broad sense of the term.

Beyond that, there is nothing much else to say.

calendar@latimes.com


'Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son'

MPAA rating: PG-13 for some sexual humor and brief violence

Running time: 1 hour 48 minutes

Playing: In general release

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