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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),
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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 parking lot scene at the K-mart is similar to the parking lot scene at Winn Dixie in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. See more »


When Candy is indicted, the judge calls her Ms. Washington but in the end of the movie when her case is over turned, they call her name out as Candace Collins. See more »


Candace Washington: What you gonna do? Beat me with your Bible every five minutes like my Grandma did?
Tanya: First of all I don't know your Grandma, and second of all I don't carry a Bible, it's at home on my mantel.
Donna: Don't need to carry it when you know every word of it.
Tanya: You should know it.
See more »


References Training Day (2001) See more »


What Would You Say
Written by Aaron Albano and Michael Lynche
Performed by Michael Lynche
Published by Kobalt Music (BMI)
Courtesy of Hood Famous Music by arrangement with Shelly Bay Music
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Super-Sized Stripper Smacks Spectator" – 'Madea Goes To Jail' Review…
24 February 2009 | by See all my reviews

I guess I should start off by admitting that I've never seen any of the previous Madea films, and that I went into this movie knowing nothing about it except that it's the latest in a long line of similar films which have gotten about the same public response as your average Steven Seagal movie. And that's not good, in case you're wondering. That's okay though, because during the opening credits we see various headlines zooming across the screen, like "Super-Sized Stripper Smacks Spectator," and we get the general idea. Madea has always been a problem for the police, she has a rap sheet a mile long and doesn't feel any need to change her behavior.

The movie comes dangerously close to being another one of those intolerable comedies where Eddie Murphy or Martin Lawrence star as every character in the movie. Madea's family are clearly meant to resemble the Klumps, although I would be lying if I said that they were not entertaining. Uncle Joe in particular is a goofy caricature, but he's a hilarious one.

The problem with the movie is that it tries to be two very different kinds of films, and it succeeds in being those two kinds of films, but the combination of the two styles kills this one completely. Half the movie is a light-hearted comedy in the vein of the Nutty Professors and Big Momma's House, but the other half of the film is a very serious drama that deals effectively with very serious issues. Life Is Beautiful is the only movie I've ever seen that really succeeds brilliantly at this story-telling technique, but that movie worked because it tied the two genres together. Life also comes close. This one, on the other hand, just throws the two halves in the same room and then sits back while they sit there not working.

Dr. Phil makes a surprisingly hilarious cameo as a therapist that tries in vain to get Madae to admit that she has an anger management problem, which ultimately lands her in jail. Meanwhile, Josh Hardaway, the Assistant District Attorney, is experiencing a wonderfully developing career, until he meets Candace, a childhood friend who has fallen into a desperate situation after years of drugs and prostitution. He tries as hard as he can to help her despite the hysterical and ridiculous whining of his horrid fiancé.

This is one of the worst parts of the movie, by the way. There is nothing worse than a romantic comedy that pits two suitors (male or female) against each other for the love of the main character, when one of the suitors is clearly tailor made to be the right choice and the other is an intolerable jerk-off. See 27 Dresses and you'll know what I mean. Josh's fiancé in this movie is unfortunately such a nagging, conniving wench that it's impossible to have any feelings towards her other than animosity. This is not a good start for a movie whose story is driven by the characters. Almost from the moment she enters the movie I was just waiting for Josh to come to his senses and boot her to the curb where she belongs.

The issues of prostitution and drugs and drugs are taken very seriously, there's even a pretty intensely emotional scene involving one of the key male characters, who breaks down completely under the weight of a tragic event for which he has never been able to forgive himself. The acting is superb in this scene, but it is genuinely bizarre when Madea shows up again and we realize what the rest of the movie is like.

It's impossible to tell if this is supposed to be a comedy or a drama, because both elements are done fairly well but they simply don't work when put together. I don't need my movies to be categorized, in fact I am pleasantly surprised when films cleverly bend genres, but this one gives us one character with a truly frightening history of drugs and prostitution and another character who lifts a car up on giant forklifts and then drops it 30 feet onto the pavement when a callous owner steals her spot at K-Mart.

Ultimately Madea and Candace get locked up in the same prison, and the two stories attempt in vain to come together. I won't say that all of the character are utterly uninteresting, although there are several points where a stupendous lack of screen writing ability is made abundantly clear. Consider this exchange between Candace and her new cell-mate, who happens to be one of her old, close friends –

Candace: "You look good." Cellmate: "Yeah, I'm doin' good. How you doin'?"

Are you serious? I'm doin' good? How you doin'? Is this an inside joke? You're both in prison! Who says they're doin' good or asks someone else how they're doin' when both of them are in prison?

But maybe I'm nitpicking. There are moments of fun in the movie, there are a few laugh out loud moments, and there are some moments of pretty impressive acting, but the movie as a whole, unfortunately, adds up to something much, much less than the sum of its parts.

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