Big Momma’s House

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Bob Smithouser

Movie Review

FBI agents stake out the home of a plump southern matriarch to catch bank robbers in Big Momma’s House, a middling Nutty Professor/Mrs. Doubtfire facsimile. Answering the call of duty, Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) dons prosthetics and poses as Big Momma to get closer to the woman’s estranged niece, who is hiding out from a dangerous old flame. The effect is kind of Klumpy … uh, clunky.

This one-joke movie packs few surprises. See a fit man pretending to be a fat lady as he burns dinner, delivers a baby, plays above the rim, puts bullies in their place and loses parts of his makeup at inopportune moments. Turner juggles two personas, alternating between mustachioed charmer and endowed granny.

Meanwhile, the real Big Momma is a joyless, dyspeptic old crank who swears one minute and breaks into a hymn the next. Such spiritual affectation is common. And it’s not funny. A lecherous parishioner pursues old ladies. Congregants seem unfazed by profanity in church. And during a service, Turner tells the people, “The good book says, ‘If you don’t know me, don’t judge me’” (a boy interjects that the quote actually belonged to gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur, which seems equally acceptable to the crowd and the pastor).

Problems also include sexual dialogue, bathroom humor, violence and a script peppered with more than 50 crude or profane expressions. As credits roll, one of the soundtrack’s mangy hip-hop songs brags about drugs and “my honeys in the strip club.” Ugh.

If this film were just a predictable clone, it could be forgiven. But scatological sight gags, feeble religiosity and other objectionable elements reveal significant cracks in the foundation of Big Momma’s House.

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Bob Smithouser