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Even Martin Lawrence in drag
can't save a hackneyed script
Martin Lawrence
"Big Momma's House"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

(Click on the images to see larger version and credits.)

One thing about Hollywood. If you like a concept, just wait around awhile. It will show up in some other movie, only with a different title.

I'm pretty fond of Martin Lawrence. He's turning into a terrific comic actor, with impressive performances in "Nothing to Lose" and "Bad Boys" (among others) under his belt. Here, he plays Malcolm, a gung-ho FBI agent who's watched "Mission: Impossible" perhaps a wee bit too much. He's known for his latex disguises and kung fu moves, which qualifies him as a cross between Ethan Hunt, Jackie Chan and Jimmy "J.J." Walker. The last for his smoooooooooth style with the ladies.

He's working on a case in which a vicious bank robber (Terrence Howard) has escaped from prison (where he was doing time for murdering the bank guard in cold blood) and is going after his ex-girlfriend Sherie (Nia Long), who worked at the bank he robbed. She's thought to have been involved with the robbery, although nothing was ever proved. Since the money was never recovered, she is being watched as the cops think that her erstwhile beau will be paying her a visit to recover the loot.

DVD notes

Definitely loaded up for bear. In addition to the usual stuff, you get deleted scenes, a blooper reel, commentary from the director and producer, two music videos, a making-of featurette, and a make-up test reel for Lawrence. Fox definitely is doing DVDs up right, and should be applauded for loading even their non-special edition DVD's with plenty of goodies.

She, of course, takes it immediately on the lam, so Malcolm and his partner John (Paul Giamatti) stake out her estranged grandmother's house in Georgia. The two were once close, but have since grown apart. When Big Momma (Ella Mitchell) is called out of town suddenly, Malcolm assumes her identity when her granddaughter phones to say she's coming for a visit. Malcolm hopes she'll confide in her grandmother, but instead winds up falling for the gal, as well as for her cute-as-a-button son Trent (Jascha Washington).

Think "Mrs. Doubtfire" meets "Kindergarden Cop," southern fried. It's not terribly well-written, and Da Queen and I were predicting - accurately, I might add - what each next plot point would be well before it actually happened. There are no surprises here and the humor could charitably described as meant for unsophisticated minds. For a comedy, it rarely brings a smile, much less a chuckle.

Just putting a male actor in drag isn't funny in and of itself. Robin Williams in "Doubtfire" used it as a springboard to examine attitudes towards women and the aged, but then, he had a better script to work with. Lawrence is talented, but even he can't overcome a cliche-ridden script that was as tired as a narcoleptic at an Al Gore speech.

"Big Momma's House" made big box office, which is certain proof of impending apocalypse. At the very least, it insures a "Big Momma 2" which should be no end of laff riot. Watching this is cinematic deja vu; you'll get the feeling you've seen this one before. Unfortunately, it'll be deja vu in a dentist's chair ... as the drill begins to whirr.

Video or theater?
Go ahead and rent this one, then preheat your oven to 350 and leave it in for an hour. Although your local video outlet may not appreciate it, you'll build up plenty of karma points for it.

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See cast, credit and other details about "Big Momma's House" at Internet Movie Data Base.