This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
Any movie that employs an oven mitt and a plumber's friend in a childbirth scene cannot be all bad, and I laughed a lot during "Big Momma's House.'' I also spent a certain amount of time staring at the screen in disbelief. While it's true that comedy can redeem bad taste, it's can be appalling when bad taste thinks it is being redeemed by comedy, and is wrong. The movie's opening toilet scene, featuring the biggest evacuation since we pulled out of Vietnam, is a grisly example.
Martin Lawrence stars in the movie, as Malcolm, an FBI agent who is a master of disguise. A vicious bank robber named Lester (Terrence Howard) escapes from prison, and Malcolm and his partner John (Paul Giamatti) conduct a surveillance on his girl friend Sherry (Nia Long), who may know where $2 million in loot has been concealed. Sherry, afraid of Lester, flees with her child to the Georgia home of her grandmother, Big Momma (Ella Mitchell). And when Big Momma is called out of town, Malcolm disguises himself as the 350-pound juggernaut, deceives Sherry, and infiltrates the case from within, while his partner keeps watch from the house across the street.
This is all essentially an attempt by Lawrence to follow Eddie Murphy's disguise as a fat guy in "The Nutty Professor", and credit should also go to Robin Williams as "Mrs. Doubtfire". The whole enterprise has been ratcheted down several degrees in taste, however; while Murphy's funniest scene involves vast explusions of intestinal gas, Big Momma's noisy visit to the bathroom is scary, not funny.
Martin Lawrence is a gifted actor, and with clever makeup, padding and sass he creates a fake Big Momma who doesn't look completely like a drag queen, although she comes close. It's doubtful her granddaughter, neighbors and would-be boyfriend would be fooled. But we go along with the gag, since the plot is no more than a flimsy excuse for Big Momma to behave in a way that most 350-pound grandmothers in their 60s would find impossible.
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