Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Movie Review #509: "Boo! A Madea Halloween" (2016)

Movie"Boo! A Madea Halloween"
Director: Tyler Perry
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes
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Before Brian (Tyler Perry) he heads out of town, he asks his aunt Madea (Tyler Perry) to come over and watch his 17 year old daughter Tiffany (Diamond White) on Halloween night in order to keep her from attending a nearby fraternity's Halloween party. Tiffany, however, devises a plan to scare 'the old people' so she can sneak out anyway.

Written and directed by Tyler Perry, "Boo!: A Madea Halloween" is the latest in his long running "Madea" film series, and this installment is only the second in Perry's history to not be adapted from a stage play. We are not that familiar with Madea and have only previously seen the character in "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," which we did not enjoy. We also don't think that particular film is a 100% accurate depiction of what Madea has become over the years. Though Madea is by far the best part of that movie, she isn't the main character and only appears occasionally on screen. This installment puts Madea in the center of a Halloween adventure. Like all of these films, Tyler Perry plays the titular Madea, as well as her brother Joe and her nephew Brian. When Brian is about to head out of town to drop his son off at his ex-wife's house, he calls Madea to come watch his 17 year old daughter Tiffany, played by Diamond White, to stop her from going to a Halloween party at a local fraternity. Tiffany, however, is determined to sneak out come hell or high water and devises a plan to scare 'the old people' so badly that they won't notice she is gone. This kicks off a series of Halloween-themed comedic adventures between Madea and her friends and the frat house down the road.

Since we weren't big fans of Madea based on the one movie we've seen her in, we really didn't know what to expect. Our expectations were quite low, especially considering how much we disliked "Diary of a Mad Black Woman." We must say we are surprised by "Boo!" We laughed a lot more than we expected to, and for the most part, the comedy finds its intended marks. Whether the humor comes from Madea and her senior friends/family being terrified by creepy clowns, or by the aforementioned seniors doing prat falls and twerking, Tyler Perry puts whatever ridiculous thing he can think of on screen. A lot of the situational humor also brings a steady stream of chuckles as well. Don't be mistaken, a good amount of jokes miss their marks as well, but most of the time, we laughed more than we expected to. Unfortunately, the film feels very long. Clocking in at just under an hour and 45 minutes long, it simply doesn't need to be this length. Perry clearly looks for ways to keep the party going, but does so in a way that elongates unnecessary scenes and rushes other ones. There is a scene early on when Madea finally shows up at Brian's house. They are all sitting/standing around his living room talking, and this scene lasts 15-20 minutes when it really should have been about 5-7 minutes long. This happens a couple of times and gets more and more unnecessary each time.

From what we understand and have seen from Perry's other movies, they all have strong religious undertones, and "Boo! A Madea Halloween" is no different. It's a much easier "get" this time around since Halloween is 'the devil's holiday,' which leaves many open spaces for discussions of Jesus and praying. Religion and faith play a big part in this story, and so does corporal punishment. There is a shoehorned in message in the third act about parenting and disciplining children instead of being friends with them. The older folks, Madea, Hattie, played by Patrice Lovely, Joe, and Aunt Bam, played by Cassi Davis, all believe in punishment through often literal beat downs, whereas Brian would rather talk to his kids instead of physically hurting or disciplining them. It is often in these more tonally dramatic scenes where the film loses steam. The message, though a good one in some respects (IE: not being friends with your kids and actually parenting them), just doesn't really fit or deliver the way Perry wants it to be delivered. Again, these elements are added to the film in an effort to give it substance beyond its silly slapstick-y Halloween-centered comedy. Really it's the silly, pranking, joking aspects of the film that work the best. It's Madea's over the top, aggressive nature that makes her and the movie funny.

At the end of the day, "Boo! A Madea Halloween" is a surprise. It's got a lot of opportunities for laughs if you turn off your brain and try to have fun with it, but Perry needs to learn to dump the morals and embrace the mayhem.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 4.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 26%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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