Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (2011) 20th Century Fox
1 hr. 47 mins.
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Brandon T. Jackson, Jessica Lucas, Michelle Ang, Portia Doubleday, Ken Jeong, Tony Curran, Faizon Love
Directed by: John Whitesell
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Critic’s Rating: * star (out of 4 stars)
Applying the unkind phrase “what a drag” seems so understated for the contemptible comedy Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son-the deplorable dud that looks to further the insipid Big Momma film franchise where laughing at stereotypical sassy large black women is sportingly warranted. This one-note joke about Martin Lawrence donning a fat suit in order to recapture the inexplicable successes of previous turgid outings in Big Momma’s House (2000) and Big Momma’s House 2 (2006) is desperate and dispiriting. Of course the need to saddle up to the Tyler Perry cinematic Madea-madness is probably another feeble cause to prop up the peppered poundage of the embarrassing Big Momma for chintzy laughs and even cheaper chuckles. So if you obtain gratifying kicks by pulling the wings off of wounded mosquitoes then Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son should fulfill your wishes to snicker at anything woefully trite and trivial.
Director John Whitesell, who uneventfully helmed Momma’s House 2, is back to oversee this fattened farce with the same wretched wit that includes overextended slapstick and exhaustive action-oriented bits that reminds one what an underwhelming romp this calorie queen Big Momma is at the hands of the insufferable Lawrence. As if diminishing dosages of comedy clunkers Death at a Funeral and Wild Hogs (and the aforementioned Big Momma predecessors) aren’t enough to tame the exasperating Lawrence he then has the nerve to whip out this detestable ditty. Screenwriter Matthew Fogel basically conjures up the borrowed banality from the prior flicks to surge Big Mommas in all its regurgitated ridiculousness.
The premise is simplified: once again FBI agent Malcolm Turner (Lawrence) puts on the padded prosthetics and goes undercover as his hefty alter ego Big Momma. This time, Turner/Big Momma cross-dresses to go undercover as a housemother at the Georgia Girls School of Arts. It is at this venue where a detailed disk containing the dirty deeds of a Russian underworld figurehead (Tony Curran) is floating around on campus. A deceased informant hid the disk before his deadly fate.
Enter Turner’s 17-year old “wanna be” rapper stepson Trent (Brandon T. Jackson). Trent is a witness to the informant’s demise so he is needed to go undercover as well with his stepdad Malcolm as they investigate the whereabouts of the missing disk. Naturally, Trent must play dress-up so he can infiltrate the all-female campus as Charmaine-the grand niece to Turner’s housemother Big Momma. Of course the hormonal Trent has the tendency to get excited about the bevy of beauties he is surrounded by as he struggles to maintain his Charmaine persona. Specifically, Trent/Charmaine madly falls for an attractive college-bound cutie (Jessica Lucas) whose ambition is to seek a music scholarship.
Predictably, an assortment of wild personalities serves as an obstacle when Turner/Big Momma is trying to scout the place for crucial evidence. A run-in with a belligerent ballet student (Portia Doubleday) is a constant hassle. Also, a love-struck roly poly security guard (Faizon Love) is after Big Momma’s intimate heart. Michelle Ang is figured into the mix as a conflicted gal waiting to embrace love at any cost only to end up addressing issues of self-confidence and respect.
Although stepfather-stepson Malcolm and Trent have not seen eye-to-eye on anything as of late-especially Trent’s aversion to attending Duke and wanting to concentrate on his rap music aspirations-it is kinda interesting to see them join in on a sing-a-long session over a classic Temptations tunes…one of a few acceptable moments to be seen in this dreadful romp. In fact, there are some music-fueled sequences that give this eyesore comedy a measure of palpable bounce. Perhaps maybe Big Momma: Like Father, Like Son could have made this wasted washout of a laugher a musical instead? Maybe not? One can diligently apply an air freshner under a skunk’s arm pit but in the long run that skunk would still have that convincing odor that lingers.
Overall, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son trudges onward without any imaginative cheekiness or ounce of inventive irreverence to take to the next sordid level. The obvious sight gags of Big Momma and Charmaine’s meaty bones are relentlessly disturbing, repetitive, insensitive and grandly insulting. The abrasive life lessons spouted by the boisterous Big Momma become tiresome and tacky. A tedious confrontation with the mailman (as overplayed in shameful over-the-top mode by Ken Jeong) seems so forceful in a search for lazy amusement. The clichéd car chases, spontaneous firearm explosions, the parading of off-kilter personalities to heighten the zaniness of Lawrence/Big Momma-all are so conventionally irritating and idiotic.
Pathetically gimmicky, racially repugnant and insidiously vile, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son is a silly-minded atrocity in the spirit of the movie’s puffy protagonist-bloated, obnoxious and a complete waste of space. The piece of advice for the opportunistic Lawrence and clueless conspirators to this unforgiveable flabby farce: bury the hatchet…and the ham hocks, too.