Lionsgate // 2009 // 440 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 22nd, 2011
Meet the Browns...then say goodbye as fast as you can.
Meet the Browns follows the misadventures of Leroy Brown (David Mann, Madea Goes to Jail), an obnoxiously dressed elderly man who opens up a senior citizens home after finding a letter from his late father reading, "Take care of the old..." Assuming this mean old folks, Brown discovers the second page of the letter stating, "...Thunderbird in the garage." Alas, it's too late and now Brown, his daughter Cora (Tamela Mann, Diary of a Mad Black Woman), his nephew Will (Lamann Rucker, N-Secure) and Will's wife Sasha (Denise Boutte, Why Did I Get Married?) are in charge of "Brown Meadows" with its crazy cast of characters including an aging movie B-movie actress, an ex-Marine who gives Mr. Brown a hard time at every turn, and an elderly woman still very much in tune with her rampaging sexuality. Although it's a rough road to start, the residents and caretakers of Brown Meadows quickly learn that family and friendships are the biggest blessings life has to offer.
The 20 episodes making up Season One on DVD don't quite jive with TBS' broadcast schedule, which lists everything after "Meet the Future" as part of Season Two...
* "Meet Brown Meadows"
* "Meet London and the Competition"
* "Meet the Dependants and the Divas"
* "Meet My Family"
* "Meet My Maker"
* "Meet the Babies"
* "Meet the Dangerous and the Deadline"
* "Meet the Faithless and the Faithful"
* "Meet the Future"
* "Meet the Truth"
* "Meet the Parents"
* "Meet Your Match"
* "Meet the Profits"
* "Meet the Class"
* "Meet Mommie Dearest"
* "Meet the Matchmaker"
* "Meet Career Day"
* "Meet the Cousins"
* "Mett the Body"
* "Meet the Mexican"
I know there are people out there who are Tyler Perry devotees. Frankly, I don't get it. Perry's writing is never subtle or clever. It's often fraught with only two spectrums: melodrama or slapstick comedy (and don't get me started on his grating Maedea character). There is rarely any in-between. Characters never come across as three dimensional people, but rather as punching bags for jokes and gags. When a character in one of Perry's sitcoms is allowed to show their humanity it feels forced, as if the writers are subliminally saying with strained angst, "See! Look! We can also do heart tugging drama!" Therein lies the real problem with Perry's television shows -- especially Meet the Browns -- the writers want us to take these characters seriously while simultaneously painting them as Looney Tunes cartoons.
If the writing weren't enough, the performances are often as broad as the sky is wide. The biggest culprit is David Mann's obnoxiously irritating Leroy Brown. Someone on the show (Tyler is the scapegoat in my eyes) doesn't seem to realize that putting a character in funny clothing is not inherently funny -- you have to have them have a reason to be wearing such ridiculous outfits and getups. Mr. Brown's fashion choices are often a cross between something out of Saturday Night Fever and a box of Crayola crayons. Besides his dress, Mann plays Brown to such exaggerated lengths that you want to tell the character to sit down and take a valium. Mann's high pitched delivery of "Cora!" (he yells it just about every episode) and flailing limbs wear thin in the second episode. Other actors -- including many of the show's senior citizen residents -- fall into the same category of being too broad to be taken seriously when the more dramatic elements appear (which often include abuse, rape, divorce). Tamela Mann as Mr. Brown's daughter fares best as the voice of reason, but this says little about the characters when only one of them is a life raft in a sea of retarded sharks.
Meet the Browns' other enormous problem is that it feels like it's running way, way behind the curve when it comes to the evolution of television. With a creaky laugh track firmly in place (seriously, we still need these?), the show appears to have crawled out from under a rock in 1992, with its oddball characters and unfunny one liners ("That girl's breath smells like butt and feet. It smells like 'futt'"). This show would have worked perfectly wedged between Full House and Family Matters. And by perfectly, I mean "below mediocre." Meet the Browns often deals with religion, making it feel like some kind of bizarre GOP conservative sitcom (I swear it seems like everyone's always talking about Jesus or someone needing some good churchin' for their soul). The current 2.4/10 rating on the IMDb should tell you all you need to know.
Look, I'm clearly not this show's target demographic. I didn't find it very funny at all. I hate to bring up the ideas of culture, race, and humor (I like to think funny is funny no matter who you are or where you come from), but there may be something to the fact that if you are a part of a certain culture, that culture's humor hits harder than those who aren't a part of that particular culture. But what do I know? I also think Pootie Tang is pretty darn funny, so there's no accounting for taste. Meet the Browns isn't the place for a deep discussion on race, culture, and comedy. This show is too broad, too slapsticky, and too silly to be anything more than a time waster. And not a very good one at that.
Meet the Browns: Season One is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it's color palate -- especially Mr. Brown's wardrobe -- is bright and clear for a standard DVD format. While this isn't an amazingly fantastic picture, I'm sure fans will be happy to have it in widescreen and looking above average. Audio is available in 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo, both in English. Little in the way distinguishes these tracks, both front heavy and with a limited spectrum of surround options. Also included are English and Spanish subtitles.
No bonus features. Thankfully.
Meet the Browns is one giant leap backwards for sitcom comedy.
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 440 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site