Boo! A Madea Halloween and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Tyler Perry
I knew this day would come. Ever since this guy came on the scene, I’ve just never had an interest in seeing anything he’s made and until now I’ve never had a reason to. I mean I knew becoming a film critic would have its downsides… but come on! Oh well. No point in putting it off any longer. It’s time for me to sit down and watch a Madea film. Who knows? Maybe it won’t be all bad. Hell, it looks like it’s the spiritual successor to Ernest Scared Stupid, so maybe they’ll replace Jesus with Halloween Kitsch? Yeah, probably not. Still, is it any good? Let’s find out!!
The movie is all about Brian Simmons (Tyler Perry) and his increasingly strained relationship with his teenage daughter Tiffany (Diamond White). Tiffany wants to go to a Halloween party that’s hosted by a Frat House that’s conveniently located within walking distance and wants to drag her Good Christian Preacher’s DaughterTM friend Aday (Liza Koshy) along with her. Brian says no, Tiffany says Fuck You (not literally) and so he has to pull out the big guns; namely Mabel “Madea” Simmons (Tyler Perry again) along with her friends Uncle Joe (Tyler Perry… again), Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis), and Hattie (Patrice Lovely) to babysit while he goes out on a business trip… on Halloween. Tiffany isn’t about to give up without a fight though and convinces the four of them that there’s a ghost in the house to keep them distracted while she sneaks off to the party and things get more shenanigan filled from there. Will Tiffany learn a lesson about listening to her father after getting to the party? Is there something ACTUALLY haunting Madea and her friends at the house, even if Tiffany’s story was total bullshit? God damn, is THIS what I’ve been avoiding all these years!?
Look, I tried, alright? I gave Tyler Perry and Madea a shot and I just couldn’t get into it. I guess I now have a better understanding of why so many have gravitated to this character for so long, and this is far from one of the worst comedies of the year, but the film was poorly paced, the jokes were repetitive, and I was kind of offended by the films finger wagging at my generation. There is a charm to this movie that’s somewhat infections and is why I don’t HATE this movie, but its wasted on a subpar script and a lousy editor that stretch everything out interminably when a leaner run time and a more nuanced message might have been enough to draw in an audience besides the Tyler Perry faithful. I’m sure this is going to appeal to his core fan base (both the sincere fans and the ironic ones), but all I felt was relief at realizing I’ve been dodging a major bullet for the last decade by not even bother with the guy who his alter ego. Oh, and there’s no actual zombie apocalypse or horror movie monsters, so fair warning if that was what you were hoping for like I was.
For the most part, I have two issues with the movie; the structure and the framing. Both by the way are a direct result of Tyler Perry’s script, so ALL the blame here falls on his lap and show that he’s either unable to improve as a filmmaker or is unwilling to break free from his niche (a little from column A and a little from column B would be my guess). What do people want? They want Madea, so the movie’s plot is shaved to the bone so that she and her friends can have long (and I mean LONG) scenes where they’re telling jokes and won’t shut the hell up. I will say that some of the dialogue in here is pretty funny, and I did like our main characters here which are Madea, Uncle Joe, Aunt Bam, and Hattie (she’s easily my favorite of the four), but the script just lets them go on and on and ON! When they first arrive at Brian’s house to babysit Tiffany, it starts out pretty funny with all of them taking shots at Brian, but that was for maybe three or four minutes on this fifteen minute sequence and it just gets old. Now when they move away from that kind of set up into something less static such as the Frat House scene or when they’re running from the killer clowns, it keeps things moving and somewhat fresh which adds to the humor even when maybe only half the jokes land. Unfortunately, parts like this are the exception rather than the rule and the movie ends up being slog to get through.
ON top of that, I just didn’t’ find the Madea character all that endearing and not nearly as funny as the film thinks she is. She’s mean, self-centered, looks down her nose at everyone, and is hypocritical about everything. This wouldn’t be so bad if the film was about her learning a lesson as well or maybe facing some consequences for her awful behavior, but the movie is behind her one hundred percent and doesn’t want the audience to question anything she does because I guess wants her to always be right; even when she call a kid fat. I don’t think there’s anything a character can do to make me hate them faster than when they call a kid fat, but this movie thinks she’s a god damn riot for doing so. FUCK THAT! She should have gotten clocked for talking that way and showing so little respect for someone else; ESPECIALLY when she finger wags about people being disrespectful later in the movie. Now there are parts when she gets a bit of comeuppance and these tend to be funny (particularly whenever someone’s trying to scare her for being such a big jerk) but in the end she comes out way more on top than a character this unpleasant really should.
I guess my problem with Madea though is merely an extension of my main problem with the movie itself and from what I hear about Tyler Perry movies in general. Not only do I not agree with his take on Millennials as an entitled and arrogant generation, but he seems to not even be that good at propagandizing his point. The movie’s ultimate message here is that kids should listen to their parents for all those guilt trip reasons that can be trotted out (I put a roof over your head, so what I say goes) and yet the “crimes” as it were that Tiffany is guilty of and that require such a hard line (and borderline abusive) response at the end of the movie are so minor because Tyler Perry still wants to make this a family friendly film. The way Tyler Perry frames it, or at least how his heroes frame it, is that the Frat House and the party they have are the height of debauchery and sin that will corrupt Tiffany and everyone else who goes there… yet these are the most harmless bros I’ve ever seen! Sure, they’re macho douches, but they’re not heavy drinkers, they’re objectification of women is extremely toned down from what you’d ACTUALLY see in a Frat House (still skeevy but not as skeevy as it should be for the point Tyler Perry wants to make), and their Halloween party preparations include makeup artists and dudes who back flip! Seriously, if you told me they were serving fruit punch instead of alcohol at this party, I’d totally believe it!
Hell, when the frat boys find out that two of their guests (Tiffany and Aday) are under-aged, they kick them the hell out of the party! What the hell are we supposed to dislike about these guys!? Fine, you can say that they should have had someone checking IDs or something for anyone entering the party, but I just don’t see why they are supposed to be the bad guys here who need to learn a lesson from someone like Madea who is a TERRIBLE person in comparison; ESPECIALLY after she calls the cops on them and has their party shut down! The way the frat boys are presented in this movie makes it hard to justify what ends up happening to them by the end of it which makes it even harder to side with Madea or ascribe to her version of morality, but let’s just say that the frat boys WERE so bad as to have the ending make a bit more sense. I still can’t fall behind her views on anything, ESPECIALLY child rearing. She openly advocates (as does her friends) for child abuse as a way to keep kids in line which I guess can be a LITTLE bit funny if we weren’t constantly being told how smart and righteous these characters were about everything. To me, all of this just felt like stroking the egos (or assuaging the guilt) of Baby Boomers who are probably the biggest group of his non-ironic fan base and there’s nothing they like more than to tell the younger ones how much they’re fucking up and how they did everything right. Maybe if you keep that in mind while watching it, then you can ignore the crap that’s spewing from their mouths. I couldn’t though and that just made this mildly amusing film that much less amusing.
I am so not the target audience for this material, and what it would really take for me to like this movie or I guess any of the other Madea movies would be taking something away from what the core audience likes. I can get behind a movie that’s really light on plot in favor of long stretches of funny dialogue (*cough Clerks and Clerks 2 *cough*), and I probably wouldn’t have the same problem with the moralizing if it was for something I actually agreed with. You probably don’t need me at this point to tell you if you should go see a Tyler Perry or a Madea movie, but if you’re still on the fence I don’t think this is what’s gonna turn you into a fan. It’s mildly amusing and it’s not often we get family friendly Halloween movies, but you can still do so much better than this. There’s no reason to see this at the theater, but if you’ve been curious about the Tyler Perry phenomenon and the idea of seeing Madea thrown into sort of a horror movie setting would increase your chances of getting into it, then definitely check it out once it gets a home release. At least Larry the Cable guy isn’t in this one!
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