Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

Movie Information

The Story: An FBI agent and his step-son go undercover in drag at an all-girls school to help nail a murderous gangster. The Lowdown: Just painfully awful. And seemingly interminable.
Genre: Botched Simulacrum of Comedy
Director: John Whitesell (Big Momma's House 2)
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Brandon T. Jackson, Jessica Lucas, Michelle Ang, Portia Doubleday, Faizon Love
Rated: PG-13

It’s tempting to call Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son a huge waste of talent, but considering the talent involved, that doesn’t seem like much of a waste. There’s some difficulty in expressing just how very, very, very bad this thing is. Let’s put it this way—this makes me actually look forward to Tyler Perry’s next bout of Madea drag. Next to Martin Lawrence, Tyler Perry is a comedic genius. For that matter, next to director John Whitesell, Perry is a true visionary.

What’s hard to understand with this latest Big Mommination is the logic behind dusting off this worn-out pseudo-franchise that’s managed to limp its way for 11 years. The premise was no great shakes to begin with, and it has not improved with the passage of time. The idea that the perfect undercover disguise for FBI agent Malcolm Turner (Lawrence) is a kind of retro-Hattie McDaniel type with a blonde wig was ludicrous enough one time. Twice was too much. Three times is just compounding the insult—and dragging in (and dragging up) Brandon T. Jackson as Malcolm’s stepson Trent doesn’t help matters one bit.

This round, the plot is a shameless rip-off of Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959), only instead of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon hiding in drag in an all-girl dance band after they witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, we get Lawrence and Jackson hiding in drag in an all-girl school for the performing arts after Jackson witnesses a Russian mafia murder. To add variety, this latest BM entry also has them on the trail of evidence (also hidden at the school) that will convict the killer. As embellishments go, this isn’t much of one, but, hey, this isn’t much of a movie, so it suits it. Of course, there’s still time for “Big Momma” to straighten out some confused white kid (Portia Doubleday, who looks like a slightly less creepy Amanda Seyfried) and an Asian girl (TV actress Michelle Ang) for diversity.

The result of copping this plot is that Lawrence ends up as Lemmon character and Jackson as Curtis. That means that Jackson gets the traditional romantic part (with TV actress Jessica Lucas standing in for Marilyn Monroe). Lawrence gets to attract the attention of chubby-chasing Kurtis Kool (Faizon Love in roughly the old Joe E. Brown part). This, of course, allows for the requisite amount of homosexual panic on Lawrence’s part, though in all fairness, it also affords Faizon the one genuinely funny line in the movie when he discovers that Big Momma isn’t a woman at all. Unfortunately, the movie also wants to duplicate the fact that the revelation does nothing to cool Kool’s ardor. OK, so he doesn’t care that Big Momma is a man, but he also doesn’t care that he/she no longer stands 350 ringside?

I could also point out the idiocy of the way in which our cross-dressing heroes can slip into and out of hours worth of make-up, padding, and prosthetics in the twinkling of an eye. Also, at 107 minutes the film is way too long. But let’s face it, the real problem with it is the simplest of all: It’s just plain not funny. Last I knew, there just wasn’t that much call for laugh-free comedies. My guess is that nobody apprised Lawrence of this development. Rated PG-13 for some sexual humor and brief violence.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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6 thoughts on “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

  1. who looks like a slightly less creepy Amanda Seyfried
    Hey! That was uncalled for. Why drag Amanda Seyfried into this?

    it also affords Faizon the one genuinely funny line in the movie when he discovers that Big Momma isn’t a woman at all.
    “Nobody’s perfect.”?

  2. Ken Hanke

    Why drag Amanda Seyfried into this?

    Because this girl looks like her, only not quite so much like a sea creature.

    “Nobody’s perfect.”?

    No, that would be Some Like It Hot.

  3. brebro

    If “Best Botched Simulacrum of Comedy” is not already a Razzie category, it needs to be.

  4. Jim Donato

    You’ve really done it this time, Hanke! You stepped into it like a city slicker greenhorn in the cow pasture for the first time! Tyler Perry’s publicity agents will make a quote whore out of you yet! Don’t be surprised if the poster for Perry’s next opus sports “…Tyler Perry is a comedic genius… Ken Hanke!”

  5. Ken Hanke

    Don’t be surprised if the poster for Perry’s next opus sports “…Tyler Perry is a comedic genius… Ken Hanke!”

    I think that would be amusingly chic.

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