Fox // 2011 // 107 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // May 18th, 2011
Momma's Got Back-Up.
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son sees Martin Lawrence take something of a backseat to newcomer Brandon T. Jackson (replacing Jascha Washington in the role of Trent Pierce), allowing the younger man to take center stage, perhaps in an attempt to move the franchise into more teen-friendly territory. Regardless of this shift in emphasis, the film still falls back on the same old tropes in a vain attempt to draw laughs from the viewer.
Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence, Bad Boys II) is excitedly waiting for confirmation that his son, Trent (Jackson, Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief), has been accepted into Duke University. Trent, however, is more interested in a career as a rapper, and has a recording contract that he needs his dad to sign. Malcolm refuses point blank, insisting Trent attend university before pursuing his crazy dreams. However, Trent is persistent, so much so that he follows his dad on a stakeout, only to find himself sole witness to the murder of Malcolm's informant at the hands of a local crime boss. The only lead Malcolm now has to go on is an incriminating USB flash drive supposedly hidden at an all-girls art college.
Desperate to keep his son safe, Malcolm once again adopts his Big Momma persona, and has Trent do likewise, disguising him as college girl Charmaine, who he enrolls at the girls' college to track down the flash drive and keep his son hidden.
Thanks in part to my time here at DVD Verdict, I've seen far too many bad movies to declare Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son a truly awful film. That said, this latest in the adventures of FBI agent Malcolm Turner, and his alter ego Big Momma is unimaginably poor. The original Big Momma's House wasn't known for its originality or wit, but so uninspired is the screenplay for this third installment that it plays like a cut-and-paste of the previous two movies. Just like before, we get crappy gags that revolve around a dude taking a leak while dressed in female clothing, along with awkward moments where either Big Momma or Charmaine find themselves in the company of scantily clad ladies while desperately trying to hide their obvious arousal. If Big Momma's House was a one-joke movie, that joke has now worn thinner than the elastic in Big Momma's undergarments.
Lawrence's reduced screen time this time out is a mixed blessing. On the one hand we get less of his mugging for the camera that has proved the final nail in such stinkers as Black Knight. The flipside of this is that, as the most natural comic performer here, his punchy delivery is missed. It may not always be a popular thing to say, but with the right material, Lawrence is actually a funny guy. The rest of the cast, including Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield), are given one-note roles that have obvious, and dull, trajectories. This, to a large extent, is also true for newcomer to the franchise Brandon T. Jackson, who is really only given a watered-down version of Lawrence's role; as such, any good work he does is undone by us having seen it all before. His character arc, which sees his cocky "player" persona gradually replaced by a softer side, feels totally contrived and forced by the confines of the screenplay.
With the majority of the film taking place at an all-girl performance and arts college, the writers saw fit to include not one, not two, but four musical numbers. These often-spontaneous moments don't quite sit right with the Big Momma formula, and do stand out as being rather, well, out of place. So, along with two Jackson/Lucas duets, we also get two, eh, show stoppers. The first is a Fame-style moment of spontaneous group singing in the school cafeteria, while a second is a Hairspray-like number where a recently dumped girl is spruced up courtesy of Big Momma and a jar of Vaseline. Even in amongst the lame gags, these scenes are a chore to get through. Still, at least these moments distract the viewer from what passes as a plot. It seems churlish to even mention the poorly written, and fairly inconsequential, villains we get in this third outing, considering this was never Big Momma's strong suit. Things do seem noticeably worse on this front this time out, however, as more than ever, the bad guys take a backseat to the proceedings. When they finally show up with any real intent during the final act, it almost feels like a different movie has started.
If there is one positive to take from Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, it is the uncredited Faizon Love (Elf), as school janitor Kurtis Kool. Kurtis has a rather odd fascination with Big Momma, and takes every opportunity to get close to her. The interactions between Love and Lawrence are as close to real comedy as this film gets, and Love's amorous advances, which end with the best gag in the whole movie, is the closest the film has to a redeeming feature.
The single-disc DVD release of Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son contains both the theatrical and extended cut of the film, which adds around 6 minutes to the running time. Unless you really can't get enough Big Momma, or are a sucker for punishment, the theatrical cut is probably still the way to go. Extras include a gag reel and deleted scenes. A commentary track is also included. Though Lawrence isn't involved in this, the participants, who include Brandon T. Jackson and Jessica Lucas, are chatty enough, but there is little of interest said really. The screener sent by Fox for review contained a sharp 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that had vibrant colors and deep black levels. Detail levels were above average. The 5.1 soundtrack is similarly impressive.
I went into Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son with an open mind. Neither the original Big Momma's House, nor its sequel were what you'd call a good movie; but still, I was quite willing to give the film a chance, and judge it purely on its own merits. Sadly the film blows whichever way you look at it, but -- considering the film made money at the box office -- it seems yet another sequel is inevitable.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site