With the title of A Madea Family Funeral and a promise of the final movie in an impressively long series (10 films!), one might speculate that we’d see Tyler Perry’s signature character reach her on-screen end. But if you were worried (or hopeful) that A Madea Family Funeral would depict the final days of the tough-love grandmother, you can relax. This story isn’t about Madea’s funeral.
However, it’s not entirely clear what this story is about. That probably won’t matter to fans who enjoy watching their favorite family matriarch keep everyone in line with a smack or offer comfort through mangled Bible verses. Those who love Madea’s banter with her brother Joe (also played by Perry), cousin Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) and old friend Hattie (Patrice Lovely) won’t be disappointed here.
Nephew Brian (Perry without makeup and prosthetics) is also part of the mix as the reliable straight man, shaking his head in disbelief at what he hears. A new addition to the cast is Uncle Heathrow (Perry with new makeup, prosthetics and a Jheri curl wig), providing cheap laughs as a double amputee and throat cancer survivor who speaks through an electrolarynx. (Cheap laughs can still be laughs. Some lines just seem funnier when they come from an electronic voice box.)
Infidelity creates some strained melodrama among too many family members to keep track of, portrayed by a ridiculously beautiful cast. (David Otunga stands out as the embodiment of “swole,” squeezing his pumped-up physique into tight shirts. He looks like a romance novel cover come to life.) But if you’re looking for a cohesive portrayal of a family providing love and support to one another following the death of a loved one, you won’t find it here.
Perry’s script only serves to move his core quintet from one setting to the next, finding increasingly inappropriate circumstances in which their bickering, ogling and boasting can be mined for comedy through scenes that go on far too long. The worst example of this is when the group is pulled over by white police officers. This was presumably an opportunity for a commentary on how black people are treated by law enforcement. Instead, Perry once again settles for easy jokes and caricatures that ultimately serve no purpose other than providing a few laughs.
A Madea Family Funeral throws 10 jokes at you, hoping one of them will draw more than a chuckle. Watching someone try too hard often gets tiresome. If this is indeed the final Madea movie, Perry may have even realized that himself.