Title: Madea’s Big Happy Family
Director: Tyler Perry
Arguing, hostility, accusations and secrets among families don’t have to be as serious as they sound. Tyler Perry’s latest movie, ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family,’ continues the writer-director’s successful film streak by once again infusing a grim subject with his fun-loving, free-spirited title character. The trademark Madea once again successfully proves that such a serious subject as health issues isn’t as devastating if she approaches it with her unique sense of humor.
‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ follows Madea Simmons (played by Perry) as she tries to help her niece Shirley (portrayed by Loretta Devine) copes with learning that her cancer has returned. Shirley wants to make peace with the fact that she may not survive this time, and tries to tell her three adult children, Byron (played by Bow Wow), Tammy (portrayed by Natalie Desselle Reid) and Kimberly (played by Shannon Kane) at the same time. But all three are struggling with their own problems, and brush their mother off. Byron is trying to raise his son after being released from jail for dealing drugs; Kimberly is angry all the time and takes it all out on her husband, Calvin (portrayed by Isaiah Mustafa); and Tammy can’t control her two sons or fix her marriage to Harold (played by Rodney Perry). While Aunt Bam (portrayed by Cassi Davis) tries to help Madea fix the broken family, a long lost family secret comes to light.
While ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ is like many of Perry’s movies that feature Madea in the fact they focus on the signature character’s take-charge, crazy antics to bring her family together, the writer-director proves once again that he knows what his audience enjoys. While cancer and family fights are serious subjects, Madea continues to be the amusing comic relief by telling the truth and cracking jokes at everyone else’s expense. Even in an ensemble cast, Madea is convincingly able to single-handedly talk sense into Byron, Tammy and Kimberly and convince them to forgive and respect each other.
Since the film does feature the same message as many of Perry’s previous films, such as people revealing their secrets to overcome the strain in their relationships, the actors’ chemistry, believability and reactions to each other carried the real burden of whether or not audiences can relate to the overall movie. But like with most of his films, Perry was once again able to create characters who genuinely seemed to care about each other, even when they were fighting. When Tammy and Kimberly were fighting over how they raise their children, for example, viewers will become so engaged in their animosity towards each other that they’ll wonder what happened between them to cause friction between them.
The characters worked so well together in part because Perry was able to assemble a tight-knight cast. Once again, as he has done in his previous movies, he hired actors he’s worked with before, including Devine and Davis, who’s he worked with on such movies as ‘For Colored Girls’ and ‘Daddy’s Little Girls,’ respectively. Having worked together before, the actors sincerely got along and cared for each other, which translated well onto the screen.
Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, who portrayed Shirley and Mr. Brown’s doctor, has said that even those actors who are new to Perry’s films, including himself, are welcomed right away by the returning cast. He also said that Perry understands that if he wants that welcoming, friendly vibe to translate to the screen, the cast must be very polite to each other when they’re not filming.
While ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ does sacrifice some character development in favor of a larger cast to prove its message that family is important, especially in times of crisis, Madea’s continuous crazy antics and outgoing personality make up for it. The movie will surely entertain Madea fans, and even make people who aren’t familiar with Perry’s famous character come to enjoy his humor, wit and emotion.
Written by: Karen Benardello