Movie Review - A Madea Family Funeral
It's fitting that the final movie in this franchise involves a funeral, but it's not the funeral of the titular character. No, Madea isn't the one who's dying, but that might have been more interesting. This movie is about Madea planning a funeral for someone else. Through that, Perry can spoof and satirize the idea and what occurs at funerals for and by African-Americans. Perry has said in interviews that despite being a sad and solemn event, he's observed things that are hilarious and rife for spoofing at funerals for black people. Throughout this film, it's obvious what those things are. His character of Madea essentially calls them out. Unfortunately, the way in which Madea calls them out is endemic to the problem with this film's construction and the construction of his last two Madea films in particular, as well as a lot of the other Madea films.
With this film, Perry adds another character for himself to play on screen and in the same scenes as the others. This new character is Heathrow, the brother to Madea. Heathrow is another foul-mouth, raunchy, tell-it-like-it-is, Southern, non-educated but street-smart, aggressive and in-your-face grandparent-type. So, in a lot of the scenes, if not more than half of the scenes, Perry is playing three characters who are essentially the same. Joe and Heathrow are by far the most identical. The only difference is that Heathrow is in a wheelchair, so Perry essentially gets to make jokes about being disabled. As always with Hollywood productions, it's a shame that Perry couldn't employ an actual disabled actor.
How Perry wields these characters is extremely redundant. Every scene aside from a handful involves all of these older characters, Madea, Joe, Aunt Bam, Hattie and now Heathrow sitting around and being their foul-mouth, raunchy, tell-it-like-it-is, Southern, non-educated but street-smart, aggressive and in-your-face selves. They can be funny in brief drips, but their scenes constitute more than half this film. Plus, their scenes go on for too long. One scene involved them sitting around for nearly ten minutes. The redundancy and the repetition just becomes like a jackhammer or nails on the chalkboard. It's too much.
Courtney Burrell (who is a graduate of Dover High School and Delaware State University) co-stars as AJ, a young man who doesn't live in Georgia but he's there visiting his parents who are having an anniversary party. We don't learn much more of who he is and what he does, except that he is having an affair with his brother's fiancée.
Aeriél Miranda (Pretty Little Liars) plays Gia, the fiancée to Jessie who cheats on him with his brother. She's the one in the middle of these two brothers and despite her guilt about the situation, we also get practically nothing more of who she is and what she does. She doesn't even get a scene where she explains why she cheated or what's going on in her head. She too becomes a background actor to Perry's scenes with himself playing three or four characters. She along with all the other young actors and actresses for the most part stand around Madea and the older characters who dominate the screen, riffing and improvising nonsense.
His weakest strength is probably directing. The way Perry stages every scene is like he's staging a live play with basic coverage, which works fine for his TV shows like The Have and the Have Nots. It becomes clunky and awkward here. It's not just that his camera placement doesn't represent any creativity or ingenuity. It's again who the camera favors. For example, there is a scene where Vianne's husband dies. Apparently, he dies as a result of a BDSM moment in a hotel room, but the way Perry shoots this scene favors the older characters like Madea and Joe. He doesn't actually show us the body of Vianne's husband.
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual humor, language and drug references.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 49 mins.
Available on DVD and VOD.