Madea's Family Reunion (2006)
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I have been forced to watch this movie one whole hell of a lot recently and each repeated viewing makes my blood boil. The characters are poorly written and acted. The jokes are so bad, I have to actually be told something is supposed to be funny. I'm just going to break this big pile of sh-t down.
Madea=suck. The character may have had some appeal, but it doesn't anymore. When the only thing she ever seems to do is smack around children and threaten adults with violence she is less than useless. She is unnecessary.
The situation with the wife beating fiancé was horsesh-t. If a woman was so scared to death of her husband, why would she try to run away when he's sleeping in bed. Wouldn't it have made more sense for her to leave when he was at work. At any rate, the characters in this arc were so annoying and overbearing that I hoped he would throw her off the balcony and was royally ticked when he didn't.
Then there are the two lovebirds. A bus driver asks a woman out by harassing her while he's making his rounds. I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't believe when she agreed to go out with him even more. But, what takes the cake is that a grown man was reduced to tossing pebbles at a window and passing notes like a ten year old by a castrating mega bitch. I don't use this term lightly, but that woman only had two modes. Morose victim and psycho momma. No matter which of these two faces she showed, however, there was one constant. The bus driver wasn't going to get any. He even married her without sampling the goods--WTF!
Then there's the family reunion scene. Here we've got the mother load which includes implied incestual taboos, grinding for the sake of grinding, shirtless, overly musclebound, b-ball, plus the great taste of Maya Angelou. When those babes dragged their butts outside and called a meeting, was I wrong to wish that the oldest of them was claimed by a heart attack. All this crap is going on at the reunion, in laughably easy to separate groups, and then they ring a bell. When they do, everyone drops what they're doing and heads on over for a stern talking too, just like a pack of Pavlov's doggies--WTF!!
Then you have the final five minutes of the film. In it we see the abusive fiancé get manhandled by his longtime victim and all around bad actress. There is an impromptu wedding where Black people are dressed like angels and are hanging from the ceiling--WTF!!! The only reason to watch it this far, besides testing your threshold for pain, is the hope that the second villain of this story gets her ass handed to her as well. Guess what, it doesn't happen. Instead, Perry takes the testicularly challenged way out and plays it safe, ending the movie on a tone of forgiveness--WTF!!
I'm pretty sure that, if given a day , I could probably write a doctoral dissertation on all the ways this movie sucks. Don't even get me started on the rest of Tyler Perry's films. I'm just going to say this. In my opinion, as a Black guy, D.W. Griffith's legacy lives on. The irony is that it is doing so through a Black man who will be praised for doing what Birth of a Nation did, selling us down the river. I only wish Perry's films were dudes so I could kick them in the nuts. Thanks a lot, dude!! What are you going to follow this up with in 2009, a comedy about the raping and savage beating of slaves in Colonial America?
But first ... to be honest, I wasn't planning on seeing this movie at all. I had (woe be to me) never even heard of Tyler Perry. And the film's title alone sounded ... well ... unappealing at best. The synopsis I'd read suggested yet another movie with a man playing an overweight black woman. That might have been funny once or twice ... in Big Momma's House, and The Nutty Professor ... but surely can't keep carrying so much water as to make yet another movie about this same motif, right?
Well, be that as it may, I noticed that this film had hit the top of the box office when it opened a week ago. And then I read a review this morning by a typically politically correct reviewer who was "dissing" the movie. Now this is a reviewer I've come to rely upon as always panning movies I like and waxing enthusiastic about movies I dislike. So reading this reviewer's badmouthing prompted me to try out this movie ... and I am so glad I did.
I think I can see why high-minded PC reviewers wouldn't like it. It's a "popular" comedy, full of rough, earthy humor, celebrates Black cultural child-rearing values, and unapologetically celebrates God and family. No wonder it's been a hit with the general Black American culture, especially Black Churchgoing culture.
What is it that makes this movie so funny and so deeply heart-warming at the same time?
Well, in some ways, this is something of an old-fashioned morality play. Such has a wonderful tradition in Western Culture ... and in African culture. A resurrection of the Morality Play is fine by me: just a shocker, that's all. I kept thinking, "how are these characters getting away with saying things like that?" As when the leading lady says she's given her life to God and has been celibate and will stay celibate till she's married. How is it possible for something like that to show up in a general release movie in this day and age? Not as a statement to be mocked, but as an expression of genuine faith in God and Chastity? I just shook my head and smiled and enjoyed the sheer frank morality of the movie every time it surfaced ... which was pretty often indeed.
The music was resplendent throughout the movie, but the sound seemed a little problematic at times. The audio was almost echoing, flat, tinny ... sort of like a somewhat bad mono recorder.
The cinematography was fine, but in a way, very old-fashioned ... stylistically similar to the movies from the early days when films were often framed as theater transferred to the screen. Maybe that reflects Tyler Perry's background, I understand as a playwright. But for example, the camera follows the action in a very straightforward, even simple way: head on, straight up, no angle shots, no through shots, no complex dissolves or modern "realistic" camera "jiggling". Maybe this is intentional: the movie is telling a plain, straight story with feeling and humor and no hint of subtlety. If this is what's going on, it's fine by me: because this makes for a very candid, very honest, but never discomforting style. Perry's narrating a Story, Telling us What's Happening. Nuance is not what we're after here. Very basic human themes are painted with strong strokes. So we have a basic cinematography to fit this purpose. Fair enough.
There's an interesting interplay of serious and humorous material at two levels. First, there's some very tight sequencing in which strongly emotional material is followed by strong humor. Some will like this, some not, but it's very much at the core of Madea's character, and the overall character of the movie. Second, "serious" scenes are sometimes interspersed with humorous scenes inserted clearly for no other reason than plain comic relief. I think some might find that a little jarring. Still, it works for me very well. And this kind of thing goes back to Shakespeare at least, so I know it works for others as well.
The acting and characterizations were wonderful. Now again, don't look for subtlety, that's not the nature of the movie. But if it's good, solid performances matching characterizations to characters, this movie has it all. Tyler Perry as Madea and Joe was simply perfect. But the entire cast provided strong, reliable performances. Including a delightful cameo by Maya Angelou.
A few "plot holes" have been alleged. I see what's meant, but frankly, don't agree at all. This is a movie that for the most part is stylized, full of art and artifice, not a "realist" movie in which careful plotting is critical for believability. A movie like this is more like a painting, or a song ... a ballad. A popular folk ballad, full of humor and fun and tears and hugs ... and lightly textured but unapologetic moralizing. This movie is a classic combo of Entertainment and Edification. The final scenes at the farm, and at the wedding, really sum up the movie in both respects, and keeping a scorecard on consistency of details is very out of place, it's directly contradictory to the genre.
Last but not least, I have to say that the figure of Madea ... tying everything together with humor and wisdom ... is a sheer delight. I'm told she'll be back on the silver screen. Good ... I can't wait to make her acquaintance once again some day.
And needless to say I'm going to try to find and watch Diary of a Mad Black Woman as soon as I can find it ... !
Madea's Family Reunion is about family, love, hurt, painful secrets and laughter. It features the infamous, gun-toting tell-it-like-it-is Madea, but this movie introduces a lot of well-rounded characters that are played by some incredible actors. We meet Vanessa the older of the two nieces in the movie. She has two out-of-wedlock children and has moved in with Madea. We also meet her sister Lisa, the younger and meek one who is engaged to a wealthy and violent investment banker named Carlos. To round out this group is Victoria, Lisa and Vanessa's mother, a strong-willed, domineering mother who has a favoritism for Lisa and a troubled past with Vanessa.
Although the movie is titled Madea's Family Reunion, the viewer gets caught up in this dual story of the sisters. One finding what love is, and one finding out what love isn't. The movie boasts powerful issues that are acted out to perfection. Tackling such controversial issues is rarely seen in films today where the movie industry has caught remake and horror fever. What is most compelling is the way Perry tells this story of love and pain, it is without color. Anyone, no matter what race or status can relate to this movie.
I also liked how the movie tackled foster parenting. Madea takes in Nikki, a rough quick little girl who has been passed around in the foster care system. With a little patience, a lot of love and encouragement, we see her metamorphosis into a sweet young lady.
The film also features strong matriarchs, garnering appearances from both Cicely Tyson and Maya Angelou. The family reunion scene in the movie is exhilarating and honest. It also gives a very moving speech by Cicely Tyson that defies time.
This is a must-see. A movie that tackles the good and the bad. There is good acting, great story lines, great character development, great music and it will leave you feeling stronger, encouraged and educated on the lessons that life deals us. Don't assume this movie is like the play or is simply about a man in drag. Trust me, it is not. Go and see it, you will be pleasantly surprised and definitely entertained.
My one hope is the girls hanging from the ceiling during the over the top wedding scene towards the end were well paid for the hours they must have been dangling there. Is that a spoiler? Oh, lord...let me spoil it further....
Let's see...we have molestation, family dysfunction, marrying rich, domestic violence, overbearing mothers, and a saccharine soliloquy from Cycelie Tyson to-boot. Oh, and let's not forget the beat the crap out of the child for laughs angle. Honestly, does any one edit films anymore? "Madea's Family Reunion" is like the worst soap opera, after school special, public service announcement, and bad Flip Wilson homage rolled into one. Tyler Perry made the mistake of directing his own script. Of course, one could argue that his sitting down to write it might have been his first offense.
If you want to see Tyler Perry do bad drag and think it's funny, I'd say watch this film. If you want to see every emotion in hyperbole acted out on the screen in front of you, and if you still have the wherewithal to endure it, watch this film. If you're looking for anything of substance, outside of a Judge Maybelline cameo, I'd look elsewhere.
The plot was predictable, tone was preachy and condescending, the acting was flat, the script was uncomfortable, clumsily written, and some of the characters seem more like borderline fantasy cut outs than say, real people.
I can understand that this movie wants to send a strong Christian morality message out to it's audience, and that's fine. Heck, I even think the black empowerment message is a pretty nice one. But they deliver it in such a way that it feels like Tyler Perry is constantly underestimating and being condescending to his audience.
In this particular case, I feel that the moral message has taken precedence in this movie over the substance and quality of the writing.
The inclusion of some of the other characters felt also very unnecessary like Cecily Tyson, China Anderson, and Maya Angelou. (Maya Angelou's poetry was a nice touch, but having her in the movie just so she can deliver that bit was unnecessary) These characters could have been condensed into Madea alone and that would have helped develop rapport with the audience. Madea's character is probably one of the more identifiable and ultimately more real characters in the movie. As such, I felt that any messages delivered through her would have been a bit more convincing.
And then there's the whole polar extremes of good and evil. The characters in this movie are either extremely good, or extremely evil. They have either no redeemable qualities or no clear flaws in their character that required development. Or rather, their short comings are a result of circumstance and not one of character. Why? Because it's painfully clear that the characters are each meant to be a symbol. Unfortunately, such a symbol took precedence over the development of the character. And as a result, these characters are single dimensional and just not believable.
The movie continuously hammers away at the Christian values morality to the point of absurdity and sometimes I feel like the movie tries to white-wash the moral landscape that is reality. I guess if you're just want to sit down and enjoy a movie with very clear messages and little after thought, this movie is good for just that. (in a way, it functions very much like an action flick. you enjoy it, you put it away, you move onto other things.) It spells out everything for you so clearly that you should have no delusion as to what the movie is trying to say. However, if you like movies that can sustain a bit more discussion and god forbid, a second viewing, this movie is not for you.
There were a few people who dogged the movie who claimed they were expecting something like Big Momma's House. One person even went as far as to call it "Afro Trash." To these close minded people who obviously lack the ability to enjoy a film such as the one Tyler Perry has made I say go out and rent Mrs. Doubtfire if thats the kind of attitude your gonna have.
Mr. Perry, thank you for making a film that makes people stand up and pay attention. I can't wait for the next one.
When i saw the trailers, I thought..."Maybe not". But while working one day, I was bored, so I rented this film.
Bloody hell, Madea is a gem and Tyler Perry should be honored by someone for saying the things he said. This is a man, not afraid of saying what he believes and has the "balls" to use his faith in a film. Wake up Hollywood. Maybe this isn't a "Mainstream" film, but I will be watching Perry's films whatever they may be. And whoever reads this and disagrees, That's your choice. My choice is to watch the films that are uplifting, not degrading.
This movie has three plots: The first involves Madea and her taking in a foster child. The second involves a woman who is engaged to a rich man who is abusing her. The third involves a relationship between a single mother with 2 children and a single father.
There is actually very little comedy in the movie. There are also a number of very twisted messages in the movie. For example, Madea beats the foster child with a belt (in a comedic manner), to convince the child to straighten out. The child does, in fact, turn herself around. Apparently, it pays to beat children.
There are plots dealing with child rape (with the consent of the mother). There are scenes with old men ogling young girls who are related to them. (The ogling takes place at a family reunion.) The movie jumps from plot to plot such that you are always off-balance. Is this a comedy, a love story, or a drama? It is, in fact, nothing ... except a waste of time and money.
It has a very good message behind the film, besides from the comedy. Most people who didn't like this film clearly didn't understand the comedy. I could relate to everything, and I thought it was a great movie.
As others has said, this movie doesn't relate to a lot of people. To me, it was seeing a lot of my life playing on a film. This film was a lot better then Diary of a Mad Black Woman, a lot more of madea.
Tyler Perry, you have done it again!!
About 10 minutes into the movie you as the plot point was established so did those weird shots. This movie is very inspiring like all of Tyler Perry works. It is by no means a Christian movie, but is an healthy alternative for the movies put out by mainstream Hollywood.
There was a very complex story line that was dealt with in this movie. Many movie goers can really empathize with all of the main characters. Blair Underwood and Lynn Whitfield were absolutely marvelous in this movie.
In my review of "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" I suggested that Tyler Perry cast a real actor in the role of Madea to give the movie more believability. Him playing Madea on stage works great, but it doesn't work as well in a play if he insists on playing himself and the uncle, you shouldn't have other characters that look just like you. He should really take a not from Eddie Murphy, although he played several different characters in the Klumps they each all looked different to an extent. Madea her son and her nephew and her brother all look exactly alike. He should either give up doing Madea or give up the other two roles.
This movie in-spite my objections to his casting himself, was quite good. It dealt with a love story of a woman who could not overlook her dark childhood. A woman who seemed trapped in an abusive relationship. And the family reunion was a glimpse into how modern blacks have strayed away from the struggles of the past generations.
It was such an awkward scene to have those old men lusting after their own cousin.
This movie was not written to be an Academy Award Caliber movie so I can't judge it as such. I really think it played to it's idea target audience perfectly.
My family who live in South Mississippi all went to see this movie together. That's over 20 people who normally don't go to the movies went out as a family to see this one. This movie has a huge drawing power amongst blacks of all ages. My elderly grandmother went to see this movie the last movie that she saw was guess? "Diary of a Mad Black Woman".
Tyler Perry keep on making your plays into movies, because you have some good messages and you are able to draw people that Hollywood could only dream of!
Perry really needs help with his screen writing. Is it a comedy or is it a drama? It's all intermingled and isn't easily transitioned. The best scene in the film was between Lynn Whitfield and Blair Underwood. The acting was good, there was pretty good dialog and the chemistry was excellent. However, the monologue by Cicely Tyson at the family reunion made absolutely no sense in relation to the context of film.
Perry tries to include too many sub-plots and in doing this just skims the surface. This keeps you from caring about the characters because they are not fully developed. There's the sub-plot of the abused woman, the sub-plot of her abused and unloved sister, the sub-plot of her abusive mother, the sub-plot of the foster child, the sub-plot of the guy who falls in love with the abused sister, the sub-plot of the abuser (which never develops, i.e. we never find out anything about him or why he's abusive, but just that he's abusive), and we've got the family reunion to deal with. However we don't know who's who in the family. Suddenly these unknown characters have these massive monologues we have to deal with in addition to trying to figure out why these characters are important to the film. It's a mess.