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Martin Lawrence is often trusty in the world of comedy. Maybe I'm just
overcoming his awful "Blue Streak," but I felt this comedy--though saggy at
times--was quite funny. The premise is undoubtedly implausible. How's a
whole neighborhood going to believe that this undercover cop with a latex
body that looks somewhat like Big Momma is actually Big Momma? There's a
lot of disbelief to suspend. But the gags often worked and I can say I
laughed about 75 percent of the time. Some are predictable, like when Big
Momma takes a karate class and starts beating the teacher--played by Anthony
Anderson--to a pulp, but they still work due to the way they're handled.
And Lawrence turns in yet another fine comic performance, with a script that
could've used a rewrite but was nowhere near as bad as the crackerjack
script he had to work with in "Blue Streak." The talented comic helps keep
the movie togehter, with a little assistance from the supporting cast. Paul
Giamatti, who was great as Pig Vomit in the acclaimed "Private Parts," is
funny as Lawrence's partner. We also have "Me Myself and Irene's" Anthony
Anderson and Cedric the Entertainer.
The plot is chaotic, sometimes predictable, and becomes more and more implausible by the minute but the comedy works and because of that we're able to excuse the script's shortcomings. "Big Momma" doesn't deliver the biggest laughs, but it's good, fun entertainment on a lonely weekday afternoon.
My score: 7 (out of 10)
This was a surprisingly good comedy, despite the predictability of it
and the typically-sappy Hollywood ending. Nevertheless, this film has a
bunch of laugh- out-loud scenes and jokes and Martin Lawrence is a
likable guy. He has the ability to make us laugh just by making goofy
faces. His best were when he was trapped in the bathroom behind the
shower curtain when the real "Big Momma" (Ella Mitchell) was taking a
dump a few feet away! The looks of Lawrence's face during that period
Lawrence eventually dresses as a big fat woman and provides laughs doing so. Ever since the early days of television and Milton Berle, people have laughed at men dressing up imitating women. Pretending to be a 300-pound woman makes it even funnier.
Throw in a pretty female lead (Nia Long) and a little drama to go along with the yuks and it winds up being a decent movie.
Why did I rent this movie? I don't really appreciate Martin Lawrence, not
his old TV show nor his stand-up routine. But I did rent it nonetheless,
fearing that I'd wasted my $2.99 after returning home.
My fears were ungrounded. This movie is actually funny, hysterically so in a few scenes. Not to mislead the reader, I have to state that this movie is nothing great; it's actually just a trifle. Just suspend all belief as Lawrence portrays an FBI agent who dons a fat-suit in order to impersonate the 350-pound aunt of the lovely young suspect Lawrence and his partner are tailing. Of course, no one, not even the aunt's suitor, can tell the difference. If you can get by this absurd premise, "Big Momma's House" contains some really rib-tickling slapstick. When Lawrence, while impersonating Big Mama, is required to mid-wife a birth...that scene alone is worth the $2.99.
Think of a Mrs. Doubtfire meets the Nutty Professor hybrid, with a
smattering of Kindergarten Cop thrown in for good measure, and you've
much got Big Momma's House. Except the former three are all reasonable
films, and, unfortunately, Big Momma's House just isn't.
When dangerous convict Howard Laster (Terrence Dashon) escapes from prison, undercover cop Malcolm (Martin Lawrence) is sent with fellow FBI agent John (Paul Giamatti) to track down Laster's ex-girlfriend Sherry (Nia Long), in the hope of luring the armed robber back in the direction of the slammer. This involves staking out the house of Sherry's Southern grandmother 'Big Momma', but when the latter leaves town Malcolm feels compelled to take on her guise, with the help of a few prosthetics and some extra padding. Things take a complicated turn, however, when Malcolm begins to fall for the beautiful, yet unknowing, Sherry.
The film bounds along like an enthusiastic dog, with the script acting as little more than a vehicle for Big Momma's 'hilarious' antics and various escapades. The action often degenerates into uninspired gross-out comedy and toilet humour as Big Momma stumbles from one rib-tickling predicament to the next, with Malcolm often only being saved by the former's reputation as a lovable and outlandish character. Big Momma attends a self-defence class. Big Momma has nasty moments on the toilet. Big Momma plays basketball. And Big Momma delivers a baby. Cue many moments of roll-in-the-aisles hilarity. Or not.
Unfortunately, convict Howard is soon forgotten as the film focuses almost solely on Lawrence, and seriously begins to grate as Big Momma's Southern screeches make up about 95% of the dialogue. The slowly developing romance between Malcolm and Sherry is also guaranteed to make audiences cringe with it's predictability.
Lawrence and Giamatti make the best of a bad job, although the audience are left wondering exactly why they took on the roles in the first place, whilst Dashon is convincing as Evil Criminal on the Loose. Predictably, all characters are shockingly two-dimensional, but to be fair, Big Momma's House does at least generate some laughs along the way.
It is difficult to see specifically who this film is aimed at, but there must be some attraction, judging by a high-grossing opening weekend in the States. However, non-existent plot and character development will ensure that many of the audience leave disappointed. Only to be seen by those who know what they're letting themselves in for.
Martin Lawrence goes undercover in a suburb of Georgia as an overweight
southern grandmother in "Big Momma's House". It's up there with "Black
Knight" and "Blue Streak" as a ridiculous, predictable and stupid yet
charmingly funny Martin Lawrence vehicle. Some of the dialog is almost
non-sensical and seems to rely on Martin Lawrence's improvisational,
uh... skills. Of course, why nobody recognizes that their friend/mother
(Big Momma) is being impersonated horribly, I don't know. But that sort
of adds to the movie I guess.
The story here doesn't matter that much. Really, it doesn't. Paul Giamatti plays the signature goofy white partner, who occasionally gets pushed around by the neighborhood locals to much comedic success (it is actually pretty funny, if predictable, like everything else here). Nia Long reprises her typical role as the love interest, and then a bunch of goofy physical stunts are taken from "Mrs. Doubtfire" and given a slightly different flair -- playing on southern black stereotypes (deep fried home cooking, going to church, etc.).
This movie is cheesy and ridiculous. I don't think you even need to watch the whole thing, nor watch it twice (though there is a sequel, and seeing that would basically be watching this movie twice). But for what it is, it's pretty goofy and entertaining.
The plot is extremely stupid, but some of the comical elements are pretty decent. This is an example of one of those movies where everyone doesn't understand the humor, which may explain why some didn't like it. Not a great movie, but not necessarily unwatchable. 1/4
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
J. Edgar Hoover would spin in his grave if he saw how the Federal
Bureau of Investigation nabs their nemesis in director Raja Gosnell's
"Big Mama's House." This boisterous but barely original drag comedy
thriller casts comedian Martin Lawrence as a streetwise, gung ho FBI
agent who disguises himself as a rambunctious 325-pound
African-American grandmother in Georgia so he can capture an escaped
murderer out to recover $2-million in missing loot from a bank robbery.
Although not nearly as exciting as "Blue Streak," "Big Momma's House"
is a hundred times funnier. When Martin Lawrence transforms himself
with prosthetics and padding into obese grandmother Hattie May Pierce,
"Big Momma's House" makes up for all its lapses in logic with loads
(and lards) of laughter.
When Sherry Pierce (Nia Long of "Soul Food") learns that her deadly ex-boyfriend, convicted bank robber Lester Vesco (suave Terrence Howard of "Pride"), has bluffed his way out of prison and is on the prowl, she packs up her young son Trent (Jascha Washington of "Three Strikes"), and they leave Los Angeles. Lester wants to retrieve the $2-million in cash that he stole from the bank. The authorities have suspected for a long time that Sherry may have helped him, but because they never found the loot they have left her alone. Meanwhile, the FBI has anticipated Sherry's move to contact her grandmother in Cartersville, Georgia, so they dispatch agents Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) and his white partner John (Paul Giamatti of "Sideways") to set up an around-the-clock surveillance on Hattie May Pierce (Ella Mitchell of "Lord Shango"). Just as Sherry rolls into town, Hattie May rolls out to tend a sick friend. Desperately, afraid they will lose their only chance to catch Lester, Malcolm mimics Big Momma on the phone and encourages Sherry to visit her. Feverishly, Malcolm and John whip together an unconvincing replica of Hattie May that Malcolm wears to hoodwink the gullible Sherry.
Martin Lawrence is the whole show in "Big Momma's House." If you love Lawrence (toned to a PG-13 rating), you'll laugh your ribs raw at his amusing antics. Most of "Big Momma's" humor springs from her rotund physique. The bathroom humor may offend some, but the scene where Malcolm's Hattie May delivers a baby with Cisco and a toilet plunger is alone worth watching. "Big Momma" proves that a crowd-pleasing comedy need not bow to logic. Hattie May on the basketball court trouncing two tough street kids at hoops; defeating a bumbling self-defense instructor; and give a sermon in church is funny but not for a moment believable. Martin Lawrence's energetic performance (as Martin again) overshadows these glaring mistakes.
"Never Been Kissed" director Raja Gosnell milks "Big Momma's House" strictly for laughs. Some scenes will split your sides if you aren't careful. Gosnell refuses to indulge himself on the action scenes. Further, he gives short shrift to Terrence Howard's felonious escapee. Howard hovers on the periphery but never makes a deep impression. Although the Feds classify Lester as a cold-blooded killer, he spares a rent-a-cop's life. Repeatedly, Lester embraces adversaries with uncharacteristic charity. As a result, "Big Momma" emerges as a slick, sympathetic, one dimensional screwball comedy with only the stretch marks of serious drama. No antagonism burns like a fuse between Lester and Malcolm, and their showdown brawl is absurdly brief. Ostensibly, since this lackluster villain poses a minimal threat to either heroine or hero, the film lacks any dramatic catharsis. At best, as a director, Gosnell is efficient; at worst, he is a hack. Happily, he keeps this formulaic fracas moving at a brisk clip and confines it to a trim 97 minutes.
The romance between Malcolm and Sherry sputters until he dons latex thighs and flour sack breasts. They make a generic couple, and their romance seems like supplemental fodder to flesh. Of course, while it adds depth, the filmmakers fail to make something out of it. Moreover, Malcolm breaks character, showing an interest in Sherry. John warns Malcolm that he is treading thin ice in his dealings with Sherry. For somebody who refused to be tied-down to a family, Malcolm appears hell-bent on courting Sherry and impressing Trent. Naturally, since Malcolm loves Sherry, any doubts in anybody's mind about the issue of Sherry's guilt should disappear. Any relationship with a character other than "Big Momma," however, takes second place, so Malcolm lusts after Sherry in disguise. Sounds rather perverted, doesn't it? The flashlight scene in bed between them (prominently featured in the film's trailers) gets a chuckle.
Clearly, scenarists Darryl ("Soldier Boyz") Quarles and Don Rhymer derived inspiration for "Big Momma's House" from cross-dressing cinematic classics, such as "Chris Columbus' "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993), Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot" (1959), and Sydney Pollack's "Toostie" (1982) as well as romantic shoot'em ups like John Badham's "Stakeout" (1987) and F. Gary Gray's "Set It Off" (1996). Like the Richard Dreyfuss cop in "Stakeout," Malcolm is determined to help Sherry, even if it intrudes on his ethics. Sherry's relationship with a notorious bank robber recalls a similar conflict in Vivica A. Fox's relationship with a bank robber and her subsequent firing in "Set It Off." Sadly, despite the best efforts of Quarles and Rhymer, "Big Momma's House" amounts to little more than a series of cleverly staged vignettes a la Flip Wilson's Geraldine of Lawrence dodging into and out of character as a mammoth matriarch. Quarles and Rhymer stretch "Big Momma" beyond the bounds of anybody's credibility to accommodate some of the most absurd premises. A blind man could easily distinguish Martin's Hattie May from Ella Mitchell's Hattie May. Ella is bigger than Martin. Essentially, the filmmakers ask us to believe that Big Momma's lifelong friends would not be able to spot an imposter on the spot.
Again, if you hate Martin Lawrence, don't enter "Big Momma's House." Despite all of the obvious narrative flaws, especially in its flaky logic, Martin Lawrence's wide-eyed, rude humor and his prosthetic posturings redeem this crime comedy.
Big Momma's House is directed by Raja Gosnell, written by Darryl
Quarles and Don Rhymer, and stars Martin Lawrence, Paul Giamatti, Nia
Long & Terrance Howard. Lawrence plays FBI Agent Malcolm Turner who
goes undercover as "Big Momma" Hattie Mae Pierce (Ella Mitchell), so as
to hopefully snare escaped convict Lester Vesco (Howard). "Big Momma"
is the aunt of Vesco's ex-wife, Sherry (Long), who is on her way to
"Big Momma's" to hide out after hearing of Lester's escape.
In spite of baffling critics-and not finding many casual film viewers willing to say they enjoyed it! the film was a surprise hit and opened as the number two movie in North America. It went on to gross over $117 million at the box office and subsequently ensured that a sequel would follow down the line (it arrived in 2006). The film isn't pretending to be anything other than the mindless comedy it is. If viewed on those terms then it can be enjoyed. Sure some of the gags are puerile, and Lawrence is an acquired taste, tho his energy and comedy timing are first rate here. But it does work to a degree. It's been done better in the likes of Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire, and the plot, with it's boorish romantic strand, is merely an excuse for "Big Momma" to get into daft scrapes. Yet the action is nicely staged and the pace of the piece never sags. There's also fun to be had in watching Giamatti & Howard looking like they just know they should be doing better stuff than this!.
Forgettable juvenile fluff for sure, but likable enough; in that brain at the door-bucket of popcorn-way. 6/10
I was in my early teens when this was released ten years ago, and I
never heard of it at the time. In early 2006, I went to the theatre
while this movie's sequel, "Big Momma's House 2", was playing, but
since I had never seen the original by this point and could see that
the sequel was widely hated, it was obviously not the movie I was going
to see. Instead, I went to see "The Matador" on that particular trip to
the movie theatre. It took me over four years after that to get around
to watching the original "Big Momma's House", and just before seeing
it, I had low expectations, thinking it would probably be a very
unfunny comedy, even if it wasn't absolutely terrible. However, while
it's unsurprisingly not that great, I did laugh.
Malcolm Turner is an FBI agent who is very skilled in disguising himself for undercover operations. After it is announced that a murderer and robber named Lester Vesco has just escaped from prison, where he was serving his life sentence, Malcolm and fellow FBI agent John Maxwell are sent to catch him. The FBI believes that the criminal's ex-girlfriend, Sherry Pierce, was also involved in criminal activity, but they haven't been able to prove it. Malcolm and John go to the neighbourhood in Georgia where Sherry's morbidly obese grandmother, Hattie Mae Pierce (a.k.a. Big Momma) lives, and begin to spy on her. Sherry is on her way to her grandmother's house with her son, Trent, but before they arrive, Big Momma leaves town unexpectedly, so Malcolm decides to pose as the feisty elderly woman! He takes on her lifestyle while trying to get the truth from Sherry, and also finds himself falling for the criminal's ex-girlfriend!
Before it is announced that Lester has escaped from prison and Malcolm and John go to spy on Big Momma's house, the film begins with the two FBI agents busting a dog fight, and I guess parts of this sequence are somewhat funny, but no more than that. The film continues to be mostly straight-faced after this, as we learn about the escaped prisoner, the two agents are sent on their mission, and Malcolm disguises himself as Big Momma. The early part where Malcolm has to hide in the shower while Big Momma defecates is memorable, but not in a good way. For a while, it didn't seem like I would be able to give "Big Momma's House" a rating higher than 5/10. I frequently snickered, but it didn't look like I would ever find any BIG laughs in the film. However, that eventually changed. While it's still not that consistent later on, it certainly can be funny with the things Malcolm has to do while in disguise, including a baby delivery. The scene with Sherry seeing Malcolm as himself and the FBI agent claiming to be a handyman is also a really funny part. The story and characters can also be interesting.
This 2000 release is definitely not generally considered one of the great modern-day comedies, and after seeing it, I can understand why, but I've seen much worse excuses for comedy. I wouldn't have been too surprised if I had thought "Big Momma's House" was really lame when I watched it, but while I'm sure many people think it is, I can't say I do. It is uneven, but sometimes funny. Also, there isn't nearly as much juvenile toilet humour in the movie as that one defecation scene suggests! Martin Lawrence plays the lead role here. I haven't seen him in any other film and have only seen a bit of his stand-up comedy, so I'm not that familiar with his work, but think he does a pretty good job with his performance here. This film is a little cheesy and doesn't have the most original plot, and more thought could have been put into the ending as well, but if you want a silly, raunchy comedy, this particular one might work, at least in some parts.
"Big Mamma's House" offers exactly what you would expect in a comedy
featuring Martin Lawrence dressing up as an old, grossly obese granny;
this is a one-joke movie in which an undercover cop disguises himself
as Big Mamma and participates in things we anticipate Big Mamma
normally would not do. There are some big laughs involved with the size
of the title character, as well as her with breasts, attitude,
sexuality, and ignorance, but there are also some obvious audience
pleasers that feel contrived. Although the make-up effects are
astonishing and amusing, there are no surprises found within this
material. We have already seen this film's punch line in better
parodies like "Some Like It Hot," "Tootsie," and "Mrs. Doubtfire." This
movie is predictable, over-enthusiastic, and does not take off with its
Martin Lawrence stars as a cop named Malcolm, who, with his partner John (Paul Giamatti), is assigned to investigate the jail bust of a convicted criminal named Laster (Terrence Dashon Howard). They suspect the murderer is after his ex-girlfriend, Sherry (Nia Long), and her son Trent (Jascha Washington), who may unknowingly own the stolen loot of a bank heist years ago. Sherry is somewhat aware of the danger she may be in, thus moves immediately to her relative's house, whom everyone calls Big Mamma (Ella Mitchell). Before Sherry arrives, however, Big Mamma leaves town for an engagement. John and Malcolm see potential involved with Big Mamma, thus they determine that having Malcolm go undercover as this character might originate information on Sherry's involvement with Laster's criminal actions.
Martin Lawrence, reprising his "Blue Streak" character, is perfect for the fast talking Mamma in which he disguises himself. The actor is in nearly every scene and is basically what the movie structures upon: one excessive comic situation after another featuring the concealed Malcolm participating in activities from karate class to a joyful church service and from the kitchen baking goodies to sleeping with the unknowing Sherry. Lawrence makes the movie succeed to the level that it does, however, his high spirits and willing energy only carry the film so far. It is only a matter of time before he wares out his welcome and becomes the only thing holding the story together.
The film does not stay focused on the plot of Laster attempting to reach Sherry; if a comedy makes the misconception to take its plot seriously, then it requires consistence. Here, although the setup contains potential, the only tension involved is when Sherry will discover her Big Mamma is an undercover cop. Essentially the movie's story is just an excuse to have Martin Lawrence play a funny character who does funny things.
The film's director is Raja Gosnell, whose "Never Been Kissed" and "Home Alone 3" provided trifling laughs, just like "Big Mamma's House" does. In this film, he and screenwriters Darryl Quarles and Don Rhymer attempt to do too much with too little like developing a romantic subplot that feels trite and predictable. No matter how much make-up or covering the filmmakers provide for their characters, beyond an occasional laugh there is simply nothing new here.
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