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big momma's house poster
click for full sized poster

Big Momma's House

Rated [PG-13]
Starring Martin Lawrence, Nia Long, Paul Giamatti
Screenplay by Darryl Quarles and Don Rhymer
Directed by Raja Gosnell
website: www.bigmommashousemovie.com

IN SHORT: for the kidlets.

Here's the gist: undercover Federal Agents Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) and partner John (Paul Giamatti) are hot on the trail of Lester (Terrence Howard), a psychotic, murderous, escaped con bank robber. Lester's on the trail of $2 million in stolen cash the cops believe to be in the possession of the very beautiful ex-girlfriend Sherry (Nia Long), who is scared to death of her old man and on the run with her beautiful little boy (Jascha Washington). Is she in fear of her ex? Is she meeting up to split the cash? Either way, Malcolm and John suspect that Sherry will head for the deep south, where her granny (Ella Mitchell) lives. Granny ain't called "Big Momma" for nothing. Tipping the scales at a svelte 325 pounds this sweet ol' porker vanishes from the story so quickly that Agent Malcolm has only one alternative to keep the case alive. He must don a rubber mask and a couple of hundred pounds of padding, taking on a new identity and kissing any logical story good-bye. . .

Waitasec. Where have I heard this story before. . . ?

From the very beginning of Big Momma's House, with the exception of the secret exploding message and never extinguishing fuse, it is very apparent that what you are watching is not a below the belt comedy about fat transvestites. No, it is Mission: Impossible The Funny One. No lie. Big Momma's House has more in common with television's Mission Impossible than the forgery now wearing the title like a scarlet letter upon it's rubberized skin. Once you see Big momma's opening scene, you'll understand how one big budget monstrosity lives up to its name and how this mini-budgeted wonder is secure enough in its world to be the badass comedy that it is. That world is one populated by teens, 'cuz the flick is a thing only they could love. It is flat out dumb and lowbrow humor at its finest - simply, if you saw the teevee spot and thought "that's the dumbest piece of ---- I've ever seen," then you should avoid Big Momma's House. If you're around 16 and started giggling at the thought of really dumb anatomy jokes, well, hunker down.

Old fart that I am, Cranky admits that he found Big Momma's House to be fairly amusing, but in the sense that it is much better seen on the small screen than the large. Check any conception of reality at the door - in this world, licensed officers don't think twice about breaking and entering and hiding surveillance equipment and telephone taps without benefit of those annoying slips of paper called warrants. The second Martin Lawrence slips on the fat suit, well, by that time you're too deep in to get out or you've already headed for the door. Those that stay get most every fat joke imaginable and, thankfully, none of the classics from films like Mrs. Doubtfire are copped.

What's slipped into the teevee spot is the sexy li'l Martin in the fat suit in bed with Nia in her skimpies. Also in the story is a subplot where Nia falls for the out of drag Martin - and here's the silly part - it's got to be a real pain to do this undercover bit and plotz around in 300 pounds of padding and latex. So why is it that this masculine cop doesn't shave off his mustache? It's got to be a heck of a lot harder to cover that nose hair than to shave, unless there's something about grotesquely overweight women that I haven't learned about yet. Either way, it just strikes me as sloppy and silly conceptualization, which summarizes this bit of fluff perfectly. The only truly clever bit in the movie is that there actually is on oversized actress, the aforementioned Emma Mitchell, playing the real big momma. No fancy camera tricks needed when the pair eventually come together (and God help the skinny person who gets stuck in between . . .)

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Big Momma's House, he would have paid...

$3.00

Rental for me. Though I'd need a helluva lot of prodding. Teens can date, which would put it at the $5 level.

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