Aside from innumerable insults to director John Whitesell, star Martin Lawrence, screenwriters Matthew Fogel and Don Rhymer and a sympathetic shake of the head for young comic Brandon T. Jackson, what is their left to offer to the movie “Big Momma’s Like Father, Like Son?” This is a movie of ungodly awfulness and yet pointing that out seems unnecessary because everyone, the creators included, knew that would be the case going in.
The Critic’s Futility
The futility of reviewing this travesty of good intentions and PG rated oddity is off the charts. Critics have been rendered irrelevant by movies before (I am looking at you Sandler) but rarely have so many of us been left with so little to say about a movie than what we have left to say about “Big Momma’s Like Father, Like Son:” Everyone knew this movie was going to stink out loud.
Now, I can already hear the catcalls about ‘critical objectivity’ and ‘not forming an opinion before you see a movie’ so let me put that to bed; in the day and age of mass marketing and the internet, it is nearly impossible, even for the most professional of professional critics, not to make certain judgments about a movie before seeing it. To not be exposed to certain aspects of a film before seeing it the critic would have to live under a rock and even then, as Geico pointed out in rather brilliant recent commercial, some information is simply unavoidable.
This Film has a Plot?
Do you really want a plot description? Really? Okay; FBI Agent Malcolm Turner is back in his Big Momma get-up after his idiot stepson Trent (Brandon T. Jackson) ambushes him while on a stake out and ends up witnessing a murder. Now, not only will Malcolm be hiding out in drag, so will Trent, in the guise of Charmaine.
Malcolm and Trent, as Big Momma and her grand-niece Charmaine, hide out at an All Girls Arts College in Atlanta. The recent murder victim has hidden a key piece of evidence against his murderer at the college. Naturally, the setting will invite all sorts of awkward comic situations including a love interest for Trent, a singer named Haley (Jessica Lucas).
Poor Faizon Love
What? No love interest for Malcolm? Nope, he remains married according to the storyline began in the first ‘˜Big Momma’ movie but in a move that can only be described as a great act of charity to actress Nia Long, Mrs. Turner is conveniently dispatched to some place where she can’t even be reached by phone.
No such luck for comedian Faizon Love who gets the unfortunate task of being Big Momma’s love interest, a College security guard that Malcolm/Big Momma must keep interested if he is going to get close to that key piece of evidence he needs. Also sacrificed to this awful story; rising star Portia Doubleday (Youth in Revolt) as the school bitch and Michelle Ang as the school basket case.
Fresh Prince of Lame Movie
If the murder plot weren’t convoluted and tired enough “Big Momma’s Like Father, Like Son” also pauses repeatedly for some seriously awful musical interludes. Trent is a wannabe rapper, calling himself the Prodigee(?), and he offers up some of the lamest PG raps since Will Smith gave up the moniker Fresh Prince.
Jessica Lucas has a pleasant but unspectacular voice, think Norah Jones minus a soul, which gets far too much screen-time in “Big Momma’s Like Father, Like Son.” Why? Because, director John Whitesell has a bizarre notion that this lowbrow, comic, murder mystery should also be a PG rated tract defending the arts. No, I’m not making that up.
A Quasi-Disney Channel Movie
“Big Momma’s Like Father, Like Son” morphs Martin Lawrence’s Big Momma franchise into a quasi-Disney Channel movie where education and the arts are given equal weight against a goofabout murder mystery plot. Good intentions run alongside a surprisingly puritanical vibe interrupted only by Faizon Love’s disturbing lust for Big Momma and Trent’s occasionally lascivious longings for his fellow students.
The goody goody-ness of “Big Momma’s Like Father, Like Son” serves as some sort of attempt at earnestness as a defense against critics like me. I am apparently supposed to reward the film for having moral fiber rather than simply trashing it for being a wholly awful exercise in filmmaking. Well, tough break kids.
Mere good intentions cannot justify such a slothful effort. “Big Momma’s Like Father, Like Son” is far too slapdash and insignificant to get a pass because it has high ideals. I appreciate that the filmmakers wanted to make a nice point about education and the arts but they needed to do it while making a good movie.