Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween is, off the top of my head, the absolute worst film I’ve ever seen. It’s rare that a film this aggressively artless makes it to modern mainstream cinema screens. Writer/producer/director Perry would seem to have an almost sociopathic indifference to the basic concepts of continuity, line readings, sound recording, lighting, blocking and, perhaps most baffling of all, even the 180-degree rule. His actors constantly bump into the set.
“Darn” is consistently looped for “damn” while other, more purposely offensive language gets a pass. Day turns to night and back again between shots. There’s even a sequence that features enough time-dilated cross-cutting to give The Empire Strikes Back a run for its money. And for as long as Perry has been playing multiple roles in his films, he still hasn’t quite figured out how to make them all share a scene with any kind of spatial clarity.
I have to wonder how much any of that really matters to Perry, though. Scene for scene, Boo 2 is structured like a Marx Brothers or Three Stooges picture. The techniques you’d normally not see outside of the early features from those vaudeville-honed acts are striking here and are clearly part of Perry’s house style. Punchlines hang for way too long in the air in order to give the audience time to laugh. Half the characters are broad, grotesque caricatures. It’s profoundly bizarre.
So I have to assume this is all by design (if that’s even the right word). Perry just can’t care. He’s not interested in being a “good” filmmaker by any standard definition. He’s out to entertain and get the laugh. So does it work as comedy? No. At least not to me. Because I haven’t even gotten to the weirdest part yet.
Outside of all those other elements is the unmistakable impression that the film is rooted in a very deep base of homophobia, misogyny and transmisogyny. I won’t go so far as to say Perry himself is guilty of these things because, for one, I truly have no idea, and secondly because I know the difference between art and artist. But with only one example to pull from, the line is pretty blurry there. And when it comes to comedy, it gets even trickier. The fact that the bulk of these offenses come from characters that the film often holds up for ridicule is also beside the point since all of those characters are also given hero moments at some point over the course of the film. We’re supposed to be laughing with these idiots. Joe, one of the three parts played by Perry himself, even spends an entire scene very explicitly sexually harassing and propositioning a girl he knows to be a minor.
I’d be more shocked if these were even anywhere near approaching the biggest misfires in a film full of them (that would be that it looks like everyone on screen missed the day in acting class where they covered “acting is reacting”). This film is a cinematic hate crime. Rated PG-13 for sexual references, drug content, language and some horror images. Now playing at AMC Classic River Hills 10, Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande.