So I watched Big Momma’s House…
There’s some pieces of cinema that have a cult classic ranking in my mind (whether they deserve it or not). It might be that my friends were always talking about it or it was one of the five VHS tapes my family owned so I watched it over and over again. Whatever the reason, Big Momma’s House is one of those movies. Returning to it now in my older age, it might not be a classic but it’s still a film I enjoy.
Okay, basic plot: Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) is an FBI agent who specialises in undercover work. Malcom’s latest assignment is to track down Sherry Pierce (Nia Long) – the former girlfriend of escaped bank robber and murderer, Lestor Vesco (Terrence Howard). In order to get close to Sherry, Malcolm has to pose as her elderly grandmother, Big Momma (Ella Mitchell).
This film tested the limits of my suspension of disbelief so many times that I wonder if they even exist anymore. There’s so many glaring flaws in this film’s premise that you have to overlook before you can even think about enjoying it. The most obvious is that Martin Lawrence in a fat suit and blonde wig looks nothing like Ella Mitchell. When I was younger, I think my brain could let this go and I wish I still had that child-like innocence and wonder sometimes; but I don’t. I wish I could say that’s the only plot hole in this movie but there’s so mnay – like why would the FBI run an undercover operation so poorly? How does Lester manage to move in the shadows without anyone hearing him? Is he Batman?
Now if you manage to clear all those hurdles and find the off switch to that part of your brain that handles logic, this movie isn’t half bad. It’s an inoffensive, goofy comedy. It was released in the early 2000’s but it has a 90’s feel to it. The jokes are mainly based on the premise of an elderly woman acting like a thirty year old man who wants to have sex with her granddaughter. That’s a bit of a problematic statement but, once again, find that off switch and leave logic out of this.
Martin Lawrence does his best and there are some genuiely funny moments in this film. I guess Lawrence is a bit of a pioneer in the ‘black man pretending to be a woman’ genre. Lawrence walked so that Tyler Perry could fly. I think this movie is what sparked my crush for Nia Long. Her character is extremely underdeveloped and I wonder if in the script her character actually had a name or did they just put down ‘eye candy’? The script suffers from a chronic case of superficiality and its characters are so generic that the actors don’t have much of an opportunity to inject any heart into them.
Overall, Big Momma’s House won’t set your world alight but it isn’t a travesty to film either. The less you think, the more likely you are to enjoy this but there’s a limit to what your brain can take, even if it’s switched off. 6/10