Who's In It: Tyler Perry, Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Viola Davis, Vanessa Ferlito
The Basics: Naughty Madea pushes the law too far this time and winds up in women's prison. Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated story, Rudy from The Cosby Show plays a junkie prostitute trying to get her life back on track. And if you're wondering how the bawdy comedy and the come-to-Jesus melodrama fit together then you've never seen a Tyler Perry movie. The man can seemingly defy the laws of physics and actually force two types of matter to occupy the same space, even when you don't want them to.
What's The Deal: I walked into this one fresh. I hadn't seen a commercial or a theatrical trailer, just the ubiquitous side-of-the-bus ad campaign featuring Tyler Perry in various drags. I thought, "Okay, well, if it's just Madea being wacky and hitting people and no one's going to try to force me to learn any lessons about personal ethics then let's go. Bring on Madea and prison." But like any committed hack director, Perry knows what his audience really wants. And they want long, long, loooooong stretches of movie devoted to watching brokedown hookers weep and get the shakes. It's going to be awesome on DVD when you can fast forward through all that badly acted, erratically directed, non-engaging, zero-dramatic-tension-having stuff, because otherwise it's a really stupidly funny movie.
How It's Like Watching Doubt: Because Oscar nominee Viola Davis is in it, playing a seen-it-all minister who grabs the script by the vital organs and transforms every scene she has into a movie you suddenly feel guilty for not caring about. Someday they're going to make an award show that's strictly devoted to actors who are always the best thing in movies that are beneath them. I'll put it in my TiVo.
Based On This Appearance, Who Should Never Again Be Allowed To Play Himself In A Movie: Dr. Phil. However, Judge Mathis and the women from "The View," in their own cameos, manage to come across as reasonable approximations of themselves. Barbara Walters stayed home that day.
Hey Tyler Perry, I Have Some Good Ideas You Can Have For Free:
1. Remake all the Ernest movies but put Madea in them. I think watching her save Christmas would be pretty great.
2. Simply retell the Euripides play, change one letter in her name and watch her go berserk, chopping up her own children. Still comedy.
3. Team up with Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan and make the 30 Rock joke-title film Honky Grandma Be Trippin'. It's time.