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Madea Goes to Jail (2009)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 20 February 2009 (USA)
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Mischievous grandma Madea lands in jail, where she meets a variety of mixed-up characters.



(based on the stage play by),
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cora (as Tamela Mann)
Bobbi Baker ...
Guard Watson


Mischievous grandma Madea lands in jail, where she meets a variety of mixed-up characters.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, drug content, some violence and sexual situations | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 February 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$41,030,947, 22 February 2009, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$90,485,233, 19 April 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The crew was taken through a real prison tour to see what it is like. Some scenes were actually filmed in an Atlantic Penitentiary, some guards were actual prison guards. See more »


Madea and her driver are in a van, having just been cut off by a guy in a car. They're "chasing" the car but it's clear that the gear lever in the van they're driving is in the 'Park' position. See more »


Joe: You ain't gotta drive nowhere to get food. I know a place where you can get fed three meals a day for free.
Madea: I ain't listening to none of your crazy talk right now, Joe.
Joe: I ain't joking here, now. I know a place where you can go work, and they gonna treat you real nice, and give you three meals a day!
Madea: What the hell you talking about? Where?
Joe: Down there at the Georgia Aquarium, they had one of the whales die. You can just go on down there and swim around for a while, and they'll feed you.
See more »


References Super Fly (1972) See more »


Written by Bryan Michael Cox and Kendrick A.J. Dean
Performed by Yolanda Adams
Published by T Perry Publishing and 2008 WBM Music Corp. o/b/o itself and
Songs In the Key of B Flat, Inc./Noontime South and The Dean's List/December
First Publishing Group (SESAC)
Courtesy of Tyler Perry Studios
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A miserably inconsistent film
27 March 2015 | by See all my reviews

Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail is one of his messiest films yet, but this time, I think I can form an explanation as to why it seems like two mediocre films were sandwiched together here to effectively create one bad film. The film came out in 2009, only four years after Perry made his theatrical debut with Diary of a Mad Black Woman, another aggressively mediocre and uneven film. During this time, if Perry wasn't writing unique stories for his theatrical efforts, he was updating his plays to fit the theatrical standards for their film counterparts. Madea Goes to Jail was one the first play written after his entry into theatrical films that was later adapted for a play soon after. The writing process for the play, and more-so the film, had to have gone a lot quicker, as Perry needed to create a story for the stage, begin directing and selling it, while writing the story for the screen, and directing and finalizing it. Alas, we end up with a theatrical effort of Perry's that's horribly uneven and jarringly bad even when its individual prospects are examined.

The film revolves, yet again, follows Tyler Perry's cross-dressing alter-ego Madea Simmons, who is arrested for her latest police spectacle, which involved a high-speed chase down the freeway. Being that the officers, fearing for their lives and amidst being beaten, didn't read Madea her Miranda rights, the judge cannot lock her up, but instead, sends her to an anger management course with Dr. Phil McGraw. With the help of her daughter Cora (Tamela Mann) and her pot-smoking brother Joe (Tyler Perry), Madea tries to get through anger management in the most insubordinate way possible.

Meanwhile, on an almost entirely unrelated note, we follow a district attorney named Joshua (Derek Luke), who is leading a successful career for himself, along with his fiancée Linda (Ion Overman), another attorney. One day, however, a woman named Candace "Candy" Washington (Keshia Knight Pulliam), an old friend of Joshua's, reenters his life. Candy is now a drug-addicted prostitute, living on the streets, victim to savage pimps and horny clients with no place to stay or sleep. Joshua's act of kindness in allowing Candy to stay at his and Linda's home angers Linda, who sees Candy as nothing more than street trash who must live in her ill-made bed because of the bad choices she's made.

Perry intersects these stories with so little cohesion it's almost like flipping channels between Tommy Boy and the darker scenes of Showgirls. I have no knowledge how the play compared to this, but it would appear that in addition to wanting to make a film about Madea going to prison and experiencing life behind bars, Perry also wanted to make a film about a soon-to-be-married couple's opportunity at redeeming another soul and finding disagreements amongst themselves and each others methods. Both, like most ideas, could've amounted to good individual films, but as soon as these ideas were combined, there was little to no hope of them being good.

Perry's unevenness as a filmmaker, and his frequent dramatic ineptitude, is part of the reason why his filmography is so inconsistent. However, on some cases, he's managed to mask his burden of having too many subplots, characters, and ideas by way of offering insights on marriage and life in general, such as in Daddy's Little Girls and Madea's Big Happy Family. However, Madea Goes to Jail shows is tendencies exhibited in the worst possible way, not only combining two wholly unrelated stories that don't even intersect in any way save for one small, momentary instance, but even gives his beloved matriarch so little to work with here. Madea, who has found her way to be occasionally funny, is almost uniformly dull here, with throwaway one-liners and forgettable comedic positioning that doesn't allow for her true comic prose to shine through. Not only does Perry mistreat the film's structure, but he shortchanges his greatest film asset as well.

Madea Goes to Jail is so cloyingly disjointed and uninteresting that one can't help but question whether or not Perry even takes his audience seriously, giving them something like this. Perry has been a filmmaker that surprises me just as much as he disappoints me, but when films like this become the norm, when does the lack of seriousness and respect see itself turned from the filmmaker to the audience into a lack of seriousness and respect from the audience to the filmmaker?

Starring: Tyler Perry, Tamela Mann, Derek Luke, Ion Overman, and Keshia Knight Pulliam. Directed by: Tyler Perry.

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