Having declared this to be the final Madea film, Tyler Perry seems ready to hang up the wig and the muumuu and end his decades long saga of the wisdom-sprouting, tough-as-nails old woman audiences have come to love.
After a family reunion goes terribly wrong and a key family member ends up dead, Madea and her crew are tasked with planning the funeral while keeping buried family secrets from unveiling.
In many ways, Madea is this generations Ernest. The films aren’t the best, but they’re such entertaining characters, that you can throw them into most any scenario and some sort of laughter will ensue. After going completely off the rails with two Halloween films, Tyler Perry is back returning to the style of older Madea films for this final outing.
Madea this time is woven into the story instead of the plot focusing more on Madea. It would be a nice change of pace, if the main story wasn’t so uninspired and trite. The moments spent with Madea and her elderly peers generate a consistent level of laughter, but every time the film switches gears to it’s daytime Soap level story, any energy or spark the film has is quickly lost.
The cast is made up of good looking, serviceable actors who fit more or less on daytime television. In fact, “A Madea Family Funeral” never shakes off it’s two-hour Soap Opera presentation. Like most late Madea films, the vast majority takes place inside with numerous characters sitting around and riffing with an occasion plot development thrown in. To Perry’s credit, the film does move around in a number of locations compared to the previous Madea films, but this film still feels extraordinarily cheap despite the $20 million budget.
Even with it’s seemingly cheap presentation, several bits land extremely well. Perry, playing FOUR characters this time, glides into each character with profound physicality. Despite this being the ninth solo Madea film, and more not counting several cameos, Perry is still able to lose himself into every role, making each one distinct and unique from the other. The newest character of Heathrow, Madea and Joe’s disabled veteran brother who speaks through a laryngophone, scores some hearty chuckles.
Some of the humor, however, wildly misses the mark. A recurring gag involving the mention of a ball-gag makes you wonder if Perry even knows what a ball-gag is or how it functions. Despite helming over 20 feature films and numerous televisions shows, Perry still can’t get a handle on how to properly block actors or frame consistently cohesive shots. If a comedy is busy making you laugh, I would be willing to overlook this, but there’s too many dry spots that when several actors eye-lines aren’t matching, it’s painfully obvious.
The only thing you need to know going into these films is if it’s funny. The answer is yes, sporadically. When the laughs do come, they come hard, Perry still hasn’t lost his touch for psychical comedy. But as the final Madea film, you’d think there would be more here. If you’re a fan of these films, you’re going to have a good time. There’s enough laughs and breezy banter to coast through the dull melodramatic moments, but for those unconverted, you need not apply.