From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail - C-

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, drug content, some violence and sexual situations, 103 minutes

Perry's latest - the stale, stereotypical "Madea Goes to Jail" is pure bait-n-switch

In Tyler Perry's latest Madea film, you find the same old thing. Hammy, over-the-top broadly played comedy based on one of his plays. Stale drama filled with handsome actors in stereotypical roles. Those familiar with Perry's popular plays will know exactly what to expect from Madea, but this time Perry could be accused of the old bait-n-switch. The film's trailers show all the fun Madea parts, and little of the predictable, ludicrous drama that fills majority of the movie. Heck, Madea doesn't even go to jail until very late in the film.

As with all of his films, the talented Perry writes and directs. A successful assistant D.A. named Joshua (Derek Luke, taking the honors this time) goes into the courtroom to defend a junkie prostitute named Candy (grown up Cosby kid Keisha Knight Pulliam) and realizes it's an old college chum that's gone wayward. With the help of a local minister (Viola Davis - obviously before the Oscar nomination for "Doubt"), Joshua tries to help get her off the streets and drugs. This causes some problems in the relationship with his beautiful fiance and fellow Assistant D.A. Linda (Ion Overman) which helps Joshua realize his true feelings for his old friend.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Madea is causing more problems than ever, and her latest highjinks - bulldozing a woman's car who cut in front of her at the K Mart - lands her some jail time, and she proves that she can survive even the toughest of jails.

Those who know Perry well know what to expect here. Another stereotypical, predictable and unrealistic tale of the streets peppered with Madea's wild antics, which have little to do with the main story at all. In fact, Madea's story is a minor subplot and Perry should know better than do to the bait-n-switch. He knows people will come out to see Madea, except they won't see much of her this time.

"Madea Goes to Jail" underscores the fact that Perry is an immensely talented entertainer whose biggest talents lie in front of the screen. As a comedian he's funny and tolerable, even in a minor role Madea is annoyingly over-the-top, but she also gives energy to an otherwise boring movie. Her most amusing scene comes in a tit-for-tat counseling session with the big guy himself - Dr. Phil. Everything else you've seen in the trailers and should come as no surprise.

Luke, Pulliam and especially Davis are all gifted actors who can make a scene better, but behind the scenes Perry is a sloppy director and writer at best, who should let his actors tell the story without such broad, predictable and stereotypical turns. But, like most of Perry's films, this was done on a small budget and should turn a decent profit that will allow to continue to make films, though really most of this is better suited to the small screen.