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Directed by Raja Gosnell
Running Time: 1:38
Rated PG-13 for crude humor including sexual innuendo, and for language and some violence.

Basically I saw Big Momma's House as Martin Lawrence trying to move into the comedy world of Eddie Murphy. I think Eddie is still considered the king among comedy actors, or at least in the upper tier along with Jim Carrey and Robin Williams. Lawrence has had some success in the past, but nothing to match Eddie Murphy, so when a script comes along that allows Lawrence to jump into a big body suit and become a large, elderly woman, he jumps at the chance. The problem is we've seen this before with Eddie Murphy, and frankly, he did it a lot better.

The straight forward plot is that Lawrence plays FBI agent Malcolm Turner who is tracking a dangerous escaped convict named Lester. The FBI figures that Lester is going to go straight to his ex-girlfriend Sherry (Nia Long) since she was a suspect in a robbery he pulled off couple years ago, but it was something they couldn't prove. Sherry heads to Big Momma's house, and when Big Momma unexpectedly goes off to a friend's house for a couple of weeks, Malcolm becomes Big Momma. And of course along the way, Malcolm also meets Sherry as himself, and starts to fall in love with her. Good guys win, Bad guys lose, and Love survives the day. It's not like this is a story we haven't seen a thousand times before.

So of course the big draw to this film is the chance to see Martin Lawrence dress up and act like an elderly woman. Which of course was one of the best scenes in The Nutty Professor when Eddie Murphy dressed up like his entire family. So seeing something like this isn't new, and on top of that, Lawrence is going to have to try and outdo Murphy in order for people to see this movie as funny. And personally, I think he fell short. First off, I can't believe that Big Momma could live in a small town for her entire life, and then all of a sudden have Martin Lawrence play her, and no one notices. Not her best friends, not her lover, not her grandchild, no one. All of a sudden a woman who has to run to the bathroom every five minutes can play basketball in the park? And no one says anything? Come on... On top of that, while I do enjoy Martin Lawrence, he can't hold a candle to Eddie Murphy. Most of the humor from this movie came from a toilet scene, and sexual humor dealing with a flashlight in bed. And there were some continuity errors I spotted as well. First there was duct tape, and then there wasn't. He goes to bed with a moustache, and wakes up without one. The comedic scenes were too few and far between to make this movie funny. The plot wasn't going to help pick it up, as it was something, like I said earlier, we've all seen before. And even if I try not to compare Lawrence to Murphy, I still don't think the movie was that good, and I didn't think Lawrence's portrayal of a large, elderly woman came off that well.

On the other hand, the supporting cast was pretty good. Nia Long looking spectacular in the stock role of the "woman". Paul Giamatti in the stock role of "the partner" was funny in a been there done that type of role. Terrence Howard as Lester the convict was dutifully scary. And of course Ella Mitchell as the original Big Momma was a lot funnier than Martin Lawrence as Big Momma. And I'm not saying Lawrence was bad necessarily, just that the movie itself wasn't written all that well, and there really wasn't a whole lot Lawrence could do as Big Momma. There wasn't enough of a story for him to let loose and go crazy. Seeing a large, elderly woman play basketball and do karate is only funny for a couple of seconds. So overall I thought Big Momma's House was just an OK movie. It had some funny scenes, the cast was good, but the story was nothing special and in the end that hurt the comedic value of the film.

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Text Version

reviewed 06/04/00

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