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Movie Review

We all gotta go sometime. That we can bank on. How we go … well, that's not up to us.

You can be sure, for instance, that Anthony would've picked a more dignified death: Something befitting his role as a husband and father, something that would emphasize his standing in the community. If he'd had his way, he might've passed gently in his sleep—in bed, perhaps, with his wife nearby, surrounded by his loved ones.

Well, at least he died in bed.

Alas, it was a hotel bed—with his mistress nearby, surrounded by a whole bunch of S&M gear.

He didn't die quietly, either. The racket he made in his final moments drew interest from the couple in the next room—who, by some outlandish coincidence, happened to be related to the dearly departed. A.J. is Anthony's oldest son. Gia, A.J.'s paramour, would've been Anthony's daughter-in-law soon enough—but not via A.J. No, she's actually engaged to Anthony's other son, Jessie.

Oh, and the mistress? She just happens to be a longtime friend whose "love" for the family went a bit too far.

Madea? She's right there for the aftermath, of course. By another outlandish coincidence, she and her whole crazy crew—Aunt Bam, Hattie and Joe—arrived just in time to see the whole sordid scene. And because they're also related to the deceased, they'll be spending plenty of time with the grieving family and all its myriad secrets over the next few days.

But let's be honest: no member of Madea's posse is known for his or her discretion. It's only a matter of time before those sordid secrets start to leak. Just like Aunt Bam's bladder.

Forget the eulogy. Anthony's gonna get an ewww-logy.

Positive Elements

Madea is the matriarch of tough love: tough, profane, angry love. She and others show it here in the aftermath of Anthony's untimely death, passing on some reasonably nice advice for dealing with the fallout from infidelity. We hear about how many couples throw in the towel too soon. Madea and Co. also hold forth on how important it is for the cheaters to fully repent and for the cheatees to demand respect. Madea understands marriage as a contract, and when someone cheats on someone else, the cheater is the one who's broken that contract. So it's up to that person to make it right—if that's even possible.

I like what Madea says about family, too, specifically how important it is to preserve familial bonds even in the worst of times. "Family is all you got," she says, "even if you can't stand 'em."

Spiritual Content

When someone dies, thoughts naturally turn to what comes after—and how best to care for and comfort the people left behind. Given that context, Family Funeral may technically be the most religious Madea movie ever made. But as with most Madea flicks, its theology and sincerity is often … questionable.

Anthony's funeral takes place in a church (the first time Madea's been in a church for decades, we hear), and the memorial service lasts most of the day. In that time, we hear plenty of Gospel songs and spirit-tinged eulogies and mangled Bible verses, with Madea regularly shuffling people offstage after their alloted two minutes of sharing time is up. "God heard you!" she'll say. "Sit down!" She speaks of passages from the "Old Testimony" and "New Testimony."

When Madea and others try to comfort grieving family members, they refer to it as "ministry" (though the benefits of their ministrations are deeply questionable). People speculate on exactly which eternal destination Anthony was headed for. When the deceased's phone rings unexpectedly after the funeral, Hattie's pretty sure Anthony's calling from hell. An officer tells a car full of people, "God bless you all."

Sexual Content

Let's begin with Anthony's departure. We hear, through a hotel wall, noisy lovemaking between him and his mistress (Renee). But something goes amiss, and A.J. walks into the room to find Renee—in skimpy leather attire—panicked. Anthony's corpse is clad in underwear; even in death, his arousal is evident.

We hear a suggestion about a sexual act with a dead body. We're told repeatedly that a S&M device (a ball) was lodged in Anthony's mouth and slipped down into his throat—perhaps the reason for his death (though we're also told he had a heart attack). We hear many references to that ball throughout the rest of the movie. Madea's crew also discusses other specific sex acts. Brian (Madea's nephew) tries, unsuccessfully, to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Anthony—an act that predictably becomes the source of many same-sex jokes that follow.

Anthony's corpse smiles in his coffin—apparently the expression he was wearing in his final moments. The mortician says he was unable to remove it. And that's not the only thing that lingers from Anthony's last sexual dalliance: He took, we're told, some sort of male enhancement "aid" before dying, and its results are still quite obvious after death. We don't see anything explicit, but part of Anthony's coffin lid keeps popping up because, we're told, of ongoing effects of the drug. (The mortician offers a surgical solution, but Madea apparently rejects the offer; thus, the lid again pops up during the funeral service, sending people running.)

About half of the church is filled with Anthony's many mistresses, much to the exasperation of his widow. We're told how habitual his cheating was, behavior that his wife finally accepted for the sake of his children. A.J. takes after his father: He's married, too, but we see him and Gia, his younger brother's fiancée, in a hotel bed together, both in their underwear and preparing to have sex. Gia seems to push away from A.J. after Anthony's death, but A.J. begs her to sneak away for sex (the night after his father dies). He later grabs her when they're both alone in Gia and Jessie's room. (Gia and Jessie share a bed at their parents' house, though they're not married.) We see couples kiss and cuddle. Women wear somewhat revealing nightgowns, and men lounge about shirtless.

Joe, Madea's crude, marijuana-addled brother, is constantly on the lookout for younger sexual partners. He leers at several women and, during a funeral, lewdly grabs one as she tries to pass him in a pew. He recalls past sexual exploits, and he waxes nostalgic for his time as a pimp. Another relative, Heathrow, insists on providing a cake for an anniversary party/funeral, one that features a bikini-clad woman riding a panther. (He calls it a "kitty on the cat.") He also makes crude remarks about and toward women.

[Spoiler Warning] Andrew's widow, Vianne, secretly hated her husband throughout their marriage because of his cheating, and she vows the rest of her life will be dedicated to her own enjoyment. The day after the funeral, she apparently spends the night with her own paramour, casually strolling into her own house the morning after. Then she grabs what she affectionately calls a "ho bag" (that someone suggests includes a thong) and prepares to go to Vegas for the weekend with her love interest.

A transsexual crashes Anthony's party and is promptly told to leave (because the transgender woman is Caucasian). We hear jokes about, and references to, homosexuality. It's suggested that a vibrating phone could trigger orgasms. We hear several references to various body parts.

Violent Content

On the way to a party, Madea, nephew Brian and Madea's whole crew are stopped by a police officer. While most of the people in the car worry about getting beaten or shot, Brian insists they have nothing to worry about. He's proven wrong, as the high-strung officer points a gun at Brian and gives him a number of self-contradictory demands. (Don't move! Let me see your hands! Didn't I tell you not to move?!)

Madea punches Joe and Hattie in the face repeatedly at critical junctures, at one point knocking out Joe's false teeth. That said, Madea insists she's much better about controlling her anger these days. "The only time I punch a b--ch in the face is when she says something I don't like," she brags.

Men grab women roughly. Threats are made. Heathrow and others talk about how he lost his legs. One such incident supposedly involved a "gangster" cutting them off when he caught Heathrow messing around with his wife. (Those stories turn out to be lies.) Hattie reminisces about how she killed one of her husbands with poison.

Crude or Profane Language

As is typical for Madea movies, almost every other word we hear from her and her cronies' mouths is a curse word. We only hear one f-word here (and another that gets bleeped during the credits) and no s-words. But we do hear oodles of uses of "h---," "d--n," "b--ch" and "a--"—so many, in fact, that my pen ran out of juice tabulating them all. We also hear about 10 uses of "p-ss," as well as two uses of the n-word. God's name is misused three times, once with "d--n."

Drug and Alcohol Content

A running joke throughout all the Madea movies is Joe's constant marijuana use. He speaks of his favorite drug repeatedly, and others sometimes ask if they can partake, too. Joe asks Vianne if he can roll and smoke a joint in the house, but she says no (much to Joe's annoyance). He also tries to smoke a cigarette in the house before Vianne puts a stop to it. References to drug use, including heroin, is mined for humor at other junctures, as well.

Heathrow speaks through a hole in his trachea—the result, we're told, of his "52-pack-a-day" habit. (He still expresses a desire to smoke.) People drink. A.J. gets drunk, saying a great many hurtful things while intoxicated.

Other Negative Elements

A.J. treats his wife terribly and disrespectfully—to the point that it's painful to watch. People obviously keep plenty of secrets from one another. Aunt Bam has a small and/or leaky bladder: She forces a car (driven by Brian) to stop nine times in the first nine miles of what's supposed to be a three-hour trip. She also talks about urinating a bit in her underwear. We hear lots of references to Joe's reputed body odor. We also hear lots of jokes that some might consider racist, homophobic or insulting to those with disabilities.

Conclusion

After 11 movies, Madea director/star/alter-ego Tyler Perry claims that he's hanging up his drag outfit and retiring his beloved Madea character for good.

None too soon.

A Madea Family Funeral suggests that, after 13 years, Perry's self-proclaimed "mad black woman" routine has grown stale. The characters' well-worn shtick feels more like a rut, and any originality once found in these flicks has long since left.

Maybe Perry understands that reality. That would explain why he's reportedly boxing up this surprisingly enduring character. And it might explain, too, why Family Funeral feels so much more ribald: desperation.

It's not like the Madea movies have ever been tasteful, exactly. The whole point, really, is that they're not. They've always been loaded with pert near every sort of content we tabulate here, from the positives to the negatives. They're gleefully inappropriate, built to shock, albeit within the elastic confines of the PG-13 rating.

But Family Funeral skimps on those positives and fills the vacuum with scads of discomforting sexual jokes and sight gags. This feels like the most crass Madea movie of them all. And given that I'm the guy who's reviewed most of 'em, that's saying something.

So, farewell, Madea, as you drive your ancient Cadillac into the sunset. I'll miss your better, wiser moments. A little.

But this movie? Not so much.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Comedy

Author

Cast

Tyler Perry as Madea/Joe/Brian/Heathrow; Cassi Davis as Aunt Bam; Patrice Lovely as Hattie; Ciera Payton as Sylvia; Kj Smith as Carol; Quin Walters as Renee; Aeriél Miranda as Gia; Jen Harper as Vianne; Courtney Burrell as A.J.; Rome Flynn as Jessie; David Otunga as Will; Derek Morgan as Anthony

Director

Tyler Perry ( )

Distributor

Lionsgate

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

March 1, 2019

On Video

June 4, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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