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Madea's Big Happy Family(2011)
Madea, everyone's favorite wise-cracking, take-no-prisoners grandma, jumps into action when her niece, Shirley, receives distressing news about her health. All Shirley wants is to gather her three adult children around her and share the news as a family. But Tammy, Kimberly and Byron are too distracted by their own problems: Tammy can't manage her unruly children or her broken marriage; Kimberly is gripped with anger and takes it out on her husband; and Byron, after spending two years in jail, is under pressure to deal drugs again. It's up to Madea, with the help of the equally rambunctious Aunt Bam, to gather the clan together and make things right the only way she knows how: with a lot of tough love, laughter... and the revelation of a long-buried family secret.
For more about Madea's Big Happy Family and the Madea's Big Happy Family Blu-ray release, see Madea's Big Happy Family Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 1, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tyler Perry, Loretta Devine, Cassi Davis, Lauren London, Natalie Desselle, Shad Moss
Director: Tyler Perry
» See full cast & crew
Madea's Big Happy Family Blu-ray Review
Tyler Perry's small, unhappy film.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 1, 2011
In case you didn't get the memo, evidently this is Tyler Perry's world and we simply are allowed to share it. Soon we won't be able to turn a corner without being greeted by some Tyler Perry project and the sooner we get used to that fact, the better. As the Borg used to so succinctly state it on Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Resistance is futile." Now, I actually gave Perry his due with his adaptation of For Colored Girls, a film many others dismissed for no other reason than that it came from Perry, so I want his legion of rabid fans to cut me a little slack when I break this news to everyone: Madea's Big Happy Family is an unmitigated piece of crap (a technical term, as I'm sure you're already aware), a loud, messy, undisciplined hodge podge that throws a bunch of interrelated characters on the screen, supposedly explores their baggage with little nuggets of Tyler Perry-esque wisdom, tosses in a requisite Gospel song, and comes to something akin to a semi-happy ending, after much, much, much trauma and tragedy. Perry has obviously built an enviable fan base that sucks up everything this ubiquitous and prolific filmmaker can churn out. But quantity does not always equal quality and in Perry's case there is most definitely something akin to too much of a once good thing. There's no denying the comedic force of the character of Madea, the combative force of nature Grandmother and Mother whom Perry portrays in drag, but after an increasing number of films featuring the Cadillac driving malapropism prone cyclone, the law of diminishing returns has more and more deprived any given Perry project with the character of redeeming features. As I've mentioned in at least a few other reviews of Perry films (there are so many by this time it's hard to actually keep track), Perry is badly (badly) in need of some sort of editor or other collaborator who can get him to step away from his "I'll do it all" tendencies, and who can provide some much needed structure and judicious pruning which almost all of his films require. Madea's Big Happy Family is unfortunately another example of Perry's excesses writ large, and though it will no doubt do remarkable business on Blu-ray (as most of Perry's other offerings have), discerning viewers are going to be unimpressed with just how unwieldy this film really is.
From a distance (something you might consider keeping from this film), this is simply yet another Perry crazy quilt of dysfunctional characters, most of whom can be helped with just a little bit of Madea's tough love. Unfortunately, getting up closer doesn't reveal any more nuance or detail. We have Madea of course, bombastic and contentious as ever. Her favorite niece Shirley (Loretta Devine) is suffering from terminal cancer and wants to gather her warring kids together to give them the news. These include two daughters, Kimberly (Shannon Kane) a model-perfect looking woman who has a gigantic chip on her shoulder for some reason, and Tammy (Natalie Desselle-Reid), dowdier but no less feisty. Rounding out the pack is little brother Byron (Shad "Bow Wow" Moss), a dope dealing wastrel who has an illegitimate son of his own. Just for good measure Madea's own daughter Cora (Tamela Mann) is dealing with obstreperous Brown (David Mann), who discovers after a colonoscopy that he needs a polyp removed. Can you say "HIE-larious"?
As if all of this mishegas isn't enough, we get a series of denouements about two thirds of the way through the film which reveal some unexpected family relationships. Naturally, this explains all the rage and anger management issues the family seems to have, and it gives Madea a chance to do a "Moishe the Explainer" bit, donning a Poirot-like pose as she gathers the entire family together to lambast them for their various failings. This is one of the smarmiest Perry entries yet, one so bad it can actually make you feel sympathy for Maury Povich, who is involved toward the end of the film. Yes, that Maury Povich.
Can someone like Perry who has written so many roles for women be a misogynist? Or is he going to hide behind the notion that all he's doing is portraying supposedly very real elements in the African American world? Madea's Big Happy Family is unbelievably cavalier in its disregard for women, any way you slice it. We have Joe (Tyler Perry, yet again) repeatedly "joking" about setting up a call line called "1 800 Choke a Ho" (no, I'm not kidding), Madea (that would be Tyler Perry again, just in case you had lost track) insisting that the husbands of Shirley's rude girls put their collective feet down and keep their wives in their proper place, and a whole subplot involving Byron's "baby mama," quite possibly the most despicable character to ever "grace" a Perry film. Do African Americans, obviously Perry's major target demographic, really find these depictions humorous, let alone worthwhile?
I've reviewed a lot of Perry's films over the past couple of years and I have to say this is actually the first one that has made me mad. How a man who has been given so much to work with continues to waste his talent on trash like this is beyond my comprehension. Not only is this sloppy writing and often amateurish execution in terms of performance, the filmmaking itself is often slapdash. Someone like Perry's friend Oprah Winfrey needs to dress up in a Madea getup of her own and give this "young man" a good talking to. It's time for Tyler Perry the artist to step away from Tyler Perry the machine.
Madea's Big Happy Family Blu-ray, Video Quality
As many problems as Madea's Big Happy Family has, one of them is not its excellent AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1 for this Blu-ray. Though this isn't the best looking Perry film, the Blu-ray makes the most of somewhat modest production values, providing a lot of pop to the brightly colored costumes several characters wear, and providing a wealth of detail in everything from faces (Perry's makeup is actually pretty visible in a couple of scenes) to sets. The picture is very sharp and clear, and about the only complaint more ardent videophiles will have is fairly persistent crush in darker scenes which robs the film of some shadow detail. Contrast and black levels are generally excellent, though Perry intentionally pushes contrast in a couple of outdoor shots (the establishing shot of the church toward the end of the film is a good example) to give everything a slightly effulgent glow.
Madea's Big Happy Family Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Similarly, Madea's Big Happy Family sports excellent audio courtesy of its lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. Why 7.1 for a film like this? Who knows? It's especially odd in that Madea's Big Happy Family, unlike several other Perry outings, sports almost no source cues as underscore, and in fact only has one "big" Gospel number (seemingly a mandatory requisite for a Perry film) toward the end. That said, the 7.1 track boasts great fidelity and though Madea doesn't get around to shooting her gun this time, the film also affords a perhaps surprising opportunity for LFE, courtesy of Madea's crashing her gigantic Cadillac through the wall of a fast food establishment. The surround mix helps to separate some of the busier dialogue scenes, especially the loud arguments which pop up several times throughout the film.
Madea's Big Happy Family Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Madea's Big Happy Family Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ugh. Madea's Big Happy Family has oozed onto Blu-ray twice now, once in its original stage play iteration and now as this completely gratuitous feature film. How much longer can Perry continue to crank out this garbage and still have audiences lap it up like it's haute cuisine? If current sales statistics for this title are any indication, there doesn't seem to be any letup in demand for Perry products. Obviously I'm in the minority and I'm just as obviously not part of Perry's target demographic, so for Perry fans or fans of this particular piece I will say the Blu-ray offers superb image and audio quality, though it's a little light on supplements. For everyone else, this is about has low as Perry has gotten.
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Madea's Big Happy Family Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Madea's Big Happy Family Blu-ray - June 14, 2011
One of last April's sleeper hits at the box office, the comedy Madea's Big Happy Family will arrive on Blu-ray this August, courtesy of Lionsgate Films. Filmmaker Tyler Perry (For Colored Girls) pulls quadruple duty on the film, producing, writing, directing, ...
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