Tyler Perry made his fortune by pandering to a predominantly African American audience. So a tip of the Santa hat for him trying to broaden his appeal by pandering to a white one with “A Madea Christmas,” his most integrated movie ever.
Give him respect for making an effort to go against the cultural grain, making a black female character a racist, spouting retrograde sentiments about how all a bully needs is a punch in the mouth and embracing the “War Against Christmas” meme of conservative news outlets.
But from its unfunny Madea-in-customer-service opening to the abrupt thud of a finale, on into the seriously stiff outtakes that cover the closing credits, “Christmas” is his worst Madea movie ever.
How bad is this tale of race, “Taking the Christ out of Christmas” and trouble down on the farm? You can’t wait for Larry the Cable Guy to show up. That bad.
And truth be told, Perry and Larry, two old pros at low comedy, could have done a simple two character farce, bickering about bigotry, hip hop vs. country music or what have you and produced a funnier movie. Their scenes at least have a little spark to them. The rest of the movie — none at all.
Madea is fired from her department store greeter gig thanks to assorted “slap the Hell outta you” threats. But Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford), her overbearing colleague, talks her into driving with her on a surprise Christmas visit to Eileen’s school teacher daughter, Lacey (Tika Sumpter).
Lacey’s a black teacher to a class full of white kids in tiny Buck Tussle (not to be confused with Bug Tussle), Alabama. It’s a town about to lose its Christmas festival due to lack of funds, until Lacey’s ex-beau Oliver (JR Lemon) steps in and finds a corporate (and secular) sponsor.
Times are hard in Buck Tussle, with farmers like Tanner (Chad Michael Murray) taking out his frustration on his wife (Alicia Witt) and son, Bailey (Noah Urrea). Lacey’s secret love, Conner (Eric Lively) is a college-trained crop specialist who somehow never learned which cows in his herd actually give the milk. Hilarious.
When Eileen, Madea and Oliver show up, things get complicated. When Connor’s parents (Larry the Cable Guy, Kathy Najimy) arrive, there’s almost no room at the inn.
Madea is famous for her malapropisms, mispronounced words in the manner of Mrs. Malaprop, a character from an 18th century play. Mrs. Madea-prop tells Lacey’s students “the story of the Nativitease. The Virgin Mary…J. Blige…she went into laborer…”
Najimy matches Madea’s word-botching, calling Madea everything from “Medium” to “Mrs. Mandela.”
What Perry doesn’t know about farming would fill a better movie than this. He toys with race, side-stepping into a couple of KKK jokes and making Eileen less than tolerant of “The Help”, which is what she believes Connor is.
The timeline is sloppy, the town “crisis” clumsily handled and the supporting cast — save for the bawdy Larry and Najimy — couldn’t find a laugh if their lives depended on it.
“The Nativitease,” a couple of mild Madea/Larry exchanges and this aphorism — “A lie — the longer you let it live, the harder it is to kill” — are all the movie has to recommend it.
That’s not enough to save “Christmas,” a lump of cinematic coal Perry’s shoving into America’s stockings this holiday season.
(The Ten Worst movies of 2013? “Madea” makes the cut.)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual references, crude humor and language
Cast: Tyler Perry, Larry the Cable Guy, Tika Sumpter, Kathy Najimy, Alicia Witt, Chad Michael Murray
Credits: Written and directed by Tyler Perry. A Lionsgate release.
Running time: 1:41
Why don’t the critics Make their own movies so we can watch and be properly entertained. I wonder How much their net worths are compared to owners of the films they negatively criticise. It’s interesting to note the differnce in opinion of the people that pay to see the films versus the critics who get paid to tell us what we should and should not like. I wonder what their perfect movie would look like. I am looking forward to seeing it.
We can’t all be Friends of Oprah. That’s why.
Opinions are like *a*holes and everybody has one. The character Madea is not a racist, she is in fact a stereotypical person. She picks on everyone regardless
of their race. This is Madea pure and simple, if you don’t
like Tyler Perry’s Movies please turn tge channel. One last thing, Tyler Perry reached out to a black community first because he knew that his movies would inspire them to be prosperous men and women. He was once homeless and needy look at him now.
Did I say she was “racist”? No. Why don’t you confine your “everybody has one” opinion to the points of the review. And it’s in theaters, bright eyes. There is no “turn the channel.”