Lionsgate // 2013 // 144 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jason Panella // March 21st, 2013
"Are you listening to me?"
The Easy Rest Retirement Home is a small place; there are only a handful of residents, and even fewer employees. But Easy Rest gets some unexpected help -- 20 hours, at least -- from Mabel "Madea" Simmons (Tyler Perry, Alex Cross) when a judge orders her to perform community service at the retirement community. Madea gets herself caught up in the residents' and employees' problems, and uses her own brand of tough love to help smooth things out. Also, there is singing.
Madea Gets A Job: The Play is exactly that: a filmed performance of Tyler Perry's play Madea Gets A Job in front of a live audience. "Musical" might be a better way to describe it, though, since a huge chunk of it's two-plus hour runtime is devoted to musical numbers. Let's say this: the music is probably the best thing about this release. The cast are all fantastic vocalists, and while a number of the songs tend to blur into an R&B puree, there isn't anything that stands out as bad.
So, the play. It starts out on a strong note as Perry sets up some interesting characters in the Easy Rest, all with real-life problems. The daughter feeling guilty of not spending enough time with her Altzheimer's disease-striken mother, the absentee father regretting choices he made, and so on. The supporting cast, which includes Perry alumnae Cheryl "Pepsii" Riley (Madea Goes to Jail) and Patrice Lovely (A Madea Christmas: The Play), is perfectly fine, but they're eventually overshadowed by Perry when Madea shows up. Madea (as usual, played by Perry in drag and a body suit) is profane and outlandish, sure, but to the detriment of Madea Gets A Job, she's also a walking deus ex machina.
About half the play is Madea individually visiting the characters and explaining what's wrong in their lives. Which fixes everything. This is where everything goes off of the rails. Much of Perry/Madea's soapboxing is aimed at the African American church culture in the south, which is fine. As a Christian, I actually appreciated some of the morals. That Perry spends so much time preaching at his characters, though, robs his story of any nuance. And laughs, really; there are some funny parts, though they're mostly when Perry breaks the fourth wall or accidentally runs into the set. It's just sloppy writing.
The Lionsgate release of Madea Gets A Job has a serviceable 1.78:1 standard def transfer and an equally serviceable Dolby Digital surround track (the latter only really shines when people are singing). There's only one extra -- the half-hour featurette -- but it's pretty substantial, especially if you really enjoyed the feature.
Madea Gets A Job: The Play might appeal to you if you're a big fan of Perry's body of work. But even if you are, you've seen Perry in better form.
There might be a "not guilty" verdict buried somewhere in that fat suit, but we're going to have to go with "guilty" for now.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 144 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated