Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
It’s been an extraordinary eleven years since Big Momma, Martin Lawrence’s monstrous caricature of a Southern black matriarch, first waddled onto our screen. Dispensing sass and gas in equal measures, she returned for a shitty sequel appearance in 2006 and has now had her decomposing, vulcanised corpse dragged onscreen for (hopefully) its last appearance – except now she’s got a sidekick! And the sidekick’s young! He’s attractive! He can do music like what the kids listen to, innit! This is probably the most transparent ‘reboot for a younger audience’ ploy in the history of cinema, and if it doesn’t stick in your throat then you must have a fucking wide throat. That’s all I have to say on the matter.
Special Agent Malcolm Turner (Lawrence) is one conflicted son of a bitch, sho’ nuff. His stepson Trent (Jackson) has been offered a place at Turner’s alma mater, but Trent would rather pursue his nascent career as a hip-hop artist than stay in school – trouble is, he’s only seventeen so he can’t head off on tour without parental consent. Malcolm’s determined that Trent will follow in his footsteps, but his stepson is resolute in his desire to rap rather than read. It certainly seems as if there’s no room for compromise between them – perhaps by the end of the film they’ll both have learnt enough to be bigger people and find a mutually acceptable solution? Gosh, that’d be marvellous.
Anyway. Following Malcolm to work in an attempt to get his signature backfires, and Trent inadvertently witnesses a brutal gangland murder when a covert mission goes badly wrong. Trent’s next on the gangster’s hitlist, but Malcolm knows that a USB drive containing enough dirt to get him put away is hidden in a nearby performing arts school for girls. Fortunately, there’s an opening for a house mother – or should that be house momma? Looks like the bitch is back…
There’s never been anything original about the Big Momma franchise – all it ever was was Mrs Doubtfire meets The Nutty Professor, plus a gun and minus any actual talent – but whichever depraved Hollywood orcs churned out the script for this sad and lifeless threequel very obviously couldn’t be bothered. There’s half-arsed lumps of every big-hitting comedy trope going – a fed who uses his connections to further his own ends (Meet the Parents), a son trying to escape from his father’s shadow (High School Musical) and some cheeky almost-teen-sex type bits which carefully stay inside PG territory (are you kidding? Everything) – plus gunfights, songs (rapping AND ballads, because Christ knows that covers all the bases), Fame-esque dance sequences in the cafeteria and occasionally some tits. Every scene ends with Big Momma doing something hilarious, usually by virtue of her being fat, and sometimes people say “dang!”. It really is this disjointed – someone somewhere has evidently produced a checklist on ‘what makes a riotous family comedy’, and it’s been followed to the letter.
The absolute best thing I can say about anyone in it is that Faizon Love, which is perhaps an even better name than that of his character Kurtis Kool, is briefly quite funny. Also, the non-specific Eastern European gangster is the chap who played Van Gogh in Doctor Who, which did at least mean I was briefly distracted by having to work out who he was. That constitutes the film’s high points in their entirety. Mr Lawrence, take note: if you even think about the possibility of a Big Momma’s House 4, I will find you and then I will maim you.