Guess who got another movie out? You guessed it, Tyler Perry. Well here it goes…
Release date: December 13, 2013
Madea gets coaxed into helping a friend pay her daughter a surprise visit in the country for Christmas, but the biggest surprise is what they’ll find when they arrive. As the small, rural town prepares for its annual Christmas Jubilee, new secrets are revealed and old relationships are tested while Madea dishes her own brand of Christmas Spirit to all.
Let’s start with the good: Najimy and Larry the Cable Guy do elicit laughs as the surprisingly open-minded “country folks” who love the beautiful Lacey and can see why she’s a good match for their handsome college-educated son. They might look like racists, but they’re the progressive ones when it comes to the interracial relationship. Despite changing things up by having the black parents be the prejudiced one, the issue is handled with heavy handed stereotypes and clichés. And it also makes Lacey infinitely less likable as a character, because what kind of person forces their loving, ridiculously handsome husband and his loving parents to pretend they’re a paid employee and his poor parents?
Seeing Larry the Cable Guy go joke-for-joke with Tyler Perry is novel for a couple of moment, but really he and Najimy are the only ones who are consistently funny, since Madea has to spend most of the movie compensating for or chastising her killjoy of a niece Eileen, who is not only racist but also classist and insensitive and downright cruel. The only moment that redeems her is late in the film. Overall, this holiday installment is one of Perry’s worst executed Madea movies. There’s no real joy and laughter for most of it, and at the end everything and everyone is magically happy.
Over the years, Tyler Perry’s movies haven’t gotten any worse, but they haven’t gotten better either, so they now carry the added disadvantage of over familiarity. Madea is still a witty character, but the gutter wisdom of her tossed-off verbal hand grenades can’t shock us anymore; even the outtakes that play through the closing credits feel like reruns. Of course, it’s not as if I expect Perry to take some time off. Churning out movies like a one-man studio system is what he does. But I’d say that he could truly use a screenwriting collaborator to open up his vistas. He’s earned the right to stretch, and at this point he’d be doing even the most devoted members of his audience a favor if he did.
5 stars is all I can say but we still love Tyler Perry’s work.