Dave's Rating:

4.0

… his formula works …

Who's in It: Angela Bassett, Jenifer Lewis, Margaret Avery, Frankie Faison, David Mann, Rick Fox, Lance Gross, Tyler Perry

The Basics: Bassett is a single mother, down on her luck, who finds out that the father she never knew has died. She goes to the funeral and meets her long-lost family. She also meets a guy who falls for her immediately. That he's also a former basketball star who wants to help Bassett's talented son go pro is just icing on the cake. That he also single-handedly renovates her house and saves her from the projects is the sprinkles on the icing.

What's the Deal? Perry is no fool. He knows his formula works, and if you don't like it, then you can simply not buy a ticket. The bad news in that equation is that he's creatively bankrupt. The good news is that since he keeps making the same movie over and over — long-suffering woman finds redemption in simple family values, the church and the one remaining good man for about 500 miles — he keeps getting better at it. This one is actually funny and not ineptly directed; he doesn't proselytize too much and lets his actors do their best to keep the characters real. Except Madea, of course. But no one wants her to be a real person anyway.

Who Saves It When It Gets Sketchy: Bassett. She doesn't ever do much wrong onscreen, even when the movie is crap. And Perry laid down the smart money by casting her. As muses go, he could do way worse (and has) than to keep begging her to be in every movie he makes from now on. Honorable mention goes to Lewis, who has all the funny, loudmouth, gossipy church-lady lines.

Why Madea Is Even in This: No specified reason. And if you're going to it thinking she's in it throughout, then you'll be disappointed. She's got one tacked-on scene involving a high-speed car chase that I swear is just the mini-prequel to a theatrical remake of the already released, straight-to-DVD Madea Goes to Prison. And if it's not, then there's no good reason at all for the cameo.

What's Next: Something called The Family That Preys, with Kathy Bates, Jennifer Hudson, Taraji P. Henson and Alfre Woodard. So the casting is promising. Would a slightly more sophisticated script be too much to ask?

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