Ah, college graduation. It’s a time for family to come together to celebrate the accomplishments of a loved one as they start their journey out of education and into the workforce. It’s a time of love, joy and merriment, especially because Tim, Madea’s great-grandson, will be giving his valedictorian speech.
But things are always a bit more complicated in Madea’s family.
Don’t get me wrong—everyone’s excited for Tim to graduate, himself included. But what Tim’s not so excited about is what he knows he needs to tell his family: He’s gay, and he’s invited his friend, Davi, to his graduation party. He’s not quite sure how everyone’s going to react to that.
But Tim’s not the only one with secrets. Many other friends and family members are harboring their own. And one way or another, they’ll all be spilled quicker than the slurry of swear words flowing out of Madea’s mouth.
When the secrets start sprouting, the stress of that graduation speech is going to be the least of anyone’s concerns.
A Madea Homecoming is filled with a lot of crude jokes and poor morals, but even a swamp can grow beautiful flowers—even if they’re tiny.
When a character grapples with marriage, Madea offers an important truth: Love is worth fighting for (provided you’re working from a biblical view on what love is). Madea reminds us that, when we’re at the wedding altar, we need to be prepared to say “I do” to multiple people—not in the polygamy sense, but in understanding that the person we dedicate our heart and life to will certainly look different and may even act different years from now. We are told that saying “I do” is a commitment not just to who that person is now, but who they will be in the future, too.
Though Madea isn’t trying to teach a biblical view of marriage by any means, she still commends the truth that marriage is a lifetime covenant worth fighting for through thick and thin.
As we’ve seen in Madea movies in the past, references to Christianity and church culture pop up fairly frequently—albeit often in sarcastic, inappropriate ways.
Madea franchise regular Mr. Brown talks about making “holy meat,” which requires a fiery furnace. Madea’s brother, Uncle Joe, tells Brown to “praise the Lord” before lighting the gasoline. After Brown catches fire and is extinguished, he makes jokes about Hell. Brown yells, “Hallelujah.” After someone accepts a proposal, Brown tells the two to “go to holy ‘mattresmony’.”
Madea says “Hallelujer,” then says she doesn’t care about the local church—only that it’s next to her favorite liquor store. When pressed on this, Madea explains that she values the liquor store more than the church because Jesus turned water into wine, and she has to go to the liquor store to get hers. Madea reminds Laura that God always sends signs, but people often look for oak trees rather than the acorn God dropped for them. Madea and many others consistently say, “Lord have mercy,” which may or may not feel profane depend on the context.
Davi’s grand-aunt Agnes references the Last Supper. Davi crosses himself. Later, Agnes does the same, and Madea unsuccessfully attempts to mimic her.
During the credits, Madea sings the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, and the section she sings references Heaven. She also leads a prayer for a group in which she threatens to beat them if they mess up their roles.
Barely a minute passes here without some sort of sexually oriented gag or joke, courtesy of Uncle Joe, Madea and Mr. Brown in nearly equal measure (though others get in on the act, too). We hear multiple vulgar and slang references to genitals, breasts, pimps, “hoes,” strippers, anal sex, oral sex, other sexual experiences and on and on it goes. The vast majority of these gags treat sex as a joke.
Multiple characters ogle and objectify others (as does the camera at times), often commenting crudely about particular body parts. Joe hits on his grandniece, at first not recognizing who she is. Even after others explain their familial connection, though, Joe rationalizes that he’s from Alabama, so “after daughter, it don’t matter.”
Madea references crushing a man’s genitals, and she references sex often. She implies her granddaughter, Laura, is only happy after a divorce because she must be having sex with someone. Madea says she once worked at a strip club, and she would get splinters in her thighs due to using a wooden pole. She also claims that Rosa Parks stole her boyfriend from her and refused to get off the bus when Madea came to confront her about it, inadvertently starting the Civil Rights Movement.
Agnes flashes Joe to show him her knickers, and Joe comments on her genitals. Agnes and Brown reference sex, and Agnes tells the others about her sex life. Later, she swats flies away from her crotch, mentions French-kissing a bull and implies she may have done more with the bull at a different point. She tells the group how Davi’s grandpa was put into jail when he was found in a hotel room “naked with a drunk sheep.”
After being lit on fire, the rear of Mr. Brown’s pants is burned off, and we briefly see his underwear. The joke regarding Mr. Brown’s rear being visible is used extensively. Brown mentions that he’s had sex with a couple mothers, and he and Joe share their astrological signs to flirt with younger women. Later, we see Brown jump off the roof in his underwear.
Tim’s best friend, Davi, encourages him to tell his family that he is gay. Later, Tim tells his family about being gay, and the family tells him that they already knew and still love him. He also decides to admit that he is gay to his graduating class during his valedictorian speech.
[Spoiler Warning] Though the film sets us up to think Davi is Tim’s romantic partner, he’s not. Davi, who is only three years older than Tim, admits to sleeping with Tim’s mother, Laura, as well as dating her. He proposes to Laura, but she says no. After Tim gives his approval for his best friend to marry his mother, Davi proposes to Laura again, and she says yes.
Another Madea relative named Aunt Bam flirts with Davi and Tim. Joe assumes that both Tim and Davi are gay and essentially tells Bam she’s wasting her time flirting with them.
Sylvia smacks her rear and wears a dress that reveals a lot of cleavage. Joseph, Tim’s father, admits to everyone that he and Sylvia are getting married. Someone references a gynecologist. Someone uses the phrase “whoring around.” During the credits, we see a marching band and women in leotards.
Mr. Brown sprays gasoline all over the yard and accidentally lights himself on fire, and his self-immolation is played off as a joke. (Nor does he have any significant burns, despite having run around on fire for a minute or two.)
Madea and Joe argue about Black Lives Matter protestors who have burned down sections of their neighborhood. Madea forcefully picks Agnes up before dropping her on the ground. Madea threatens to hurt Richard, and she fires a pistol into the ceiling. She also pumps a shotgun. Madea tells Laura to punch Sylvia in the throat. In a flashback, Madea trashes an NAACP office, and she stabs bus tires.
Joe makes a reference to the January 6th protests. Richard and Davi fight, punching each other in the face as others are caught in the crossfire.
All told, I counted slightly more than 300 swear words in this 107-minute movie (including credits), which translates to one about every 20 seconds or so.
The f-word is used 15 times, and the s-word is used 21 times. Variations on the n-word are used eight times. At one point, Agnes says “knickers,” enraging the Madea family who thought she had said the n-word.
The most used vulgarities are “h—” and “d–n,” used 110 times and 81 times, respectively. Crude words describing male and female genitalia are used. “A–” is heard 36 times, and we also hear “b–tard,” “p-ss,” “b–ch” and a crude description of breasts. We hear a use of the word “crap.” God’s name is misused 22 times.
Madea references a liquor store, and she calls Aunt Bam high. Madea rolls joints while drinking a beer, and Laura comments on the smell. During the end credits, Madea and a man talk about running through Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love,” and she sings parts that reference cigars and drinking. People are implied to be drinking in the audience while Madea sings. Madea attributes her wisdom to smoking marijuana.
Joe constantly talks about weed. He is upset his “weed man” may not be able to deliver him his marijuana. Madea begins to ask for Joe to get her some but stops when she remembers Ellie (who is a police officer) is in the room. Ellie and Joe argue about weed being illegal in Georgia. Joe smokes a joint, and he misses Tim’s graduation because he’s too high.
Agnes and Brown accidentally take marijuana-laced chocolate candies. Later, the drug takes effect, causing Agnes and Brown to act crazily. Agnes asks Madea for more of her homemade weed candy, and she later eats a large bag of it after Madea tells her to take it slow. People drink beer at a graduation party.
Aunt Bam asks for a beer, and she frequently talks about being high.
Madea mentions how she has many warrants out for her arrest, and she brags that “running from the police” keeps her young. Ellie and Joe argue about the “defund the police” movement.
Agnes introduces herself to the audience by passing gas, and she introduces herself to Madea’s family by yelling “Wakanda forever” when they open the door. After Joe refuses to eat at a table with white Europeans and a police officer, Agnes says “hold on one cotton-pickin’ minute,” and gets taken to task by others for her racism. Agnes misinterprets Tim’s coming out confession as an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
There are multiple references to passing gas and having excrement-related accidents.
A character says, “There’s the legal way, then there’s the Madea way.”
A Madea Homecoming answers the question of whether or not basing the entirety of its humor around one-liners about sex, drugs and curse words makes it funny. The answer is the same one many middle school boys found out in public school: it’s doesn’t.
The movie stars the aggressive, no-nonsense and (very) occasionally wise Madea as she hosts her relatives who have all come to celebrate Madea’s great-grandson Tim’s college graduation. And though we all love our families, cramming everyone under a single roof can often lead to a lot of tension—especially if your family is Madea’s.
There are Uncle Joe and Aunt Bam, who seem to exist in this movie purely to sexually harass other characters and smoke marijuana. We also meet Joseph, Laura and Tim, a dysfunctional family who hide more secrets from one another than characters in J.J. Abram’s Lost. There’s even Agnes Brown (yes, from Mrs. Brown’s Boys), whose character arc essentially consists of learning how much she loves marijuana.
A subplot revolves around Tim’s revelation that he’s gay. But once he comes out publicly, his family jokes that they’ve all known about it for years and that they love him anyway.
Each character comes into town carrying his or her own burdens, the majority of which are dealt with in unhealthy ways. However, through all the grime, there is the occasional message of wisdom that Madea has provided in movies past. At the heart of a story surrounded by increasingly absurd and immoral secrets is a small subplot about the value of marriage and sacrificing for the one you love.
But unearthing that small nugget of truth in A Madea Homecoming requires wading through a vast sea of swear words, sexual innuendos and characters who smoke more marijuana than they drink water—all for a single short conversation.
Tyler Perry’s Madea movies have always been a maddeningly problematic mix of profane and redemptive messages. But the ratio of one to the other here is certainly the most lopsided we’ve ever seen—and not in a good way.
Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”