Madea Goes to Jail (2009)

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Madea Goes to Jail: Directed by Tyler Perry. With Tyler Perry, Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pulliam, David Mann. Mischievous grandma Madea lands in jail, where she meets a variety of mixed-up characters.

“I guess I should start off by admitting that Iu0026#39;ve never seen any of the previous Madea films, and that I went into this movie knowing nothing about it except that itu0026#39;s the latest in a long line of similar films which have gotten about the same public response as your average Steven Seagal movie. And thatu0026#39;s not good, in case youu0026#39;re wondering. Thatu0026#39;s okay though, because during the opening credits we see various headlines zooming across the screen, like u0026quot;Super-Sized Stripper Smacks Spectator,u0026quot; and we get the general idea. Madea has always been a problem for the police, she has a rap sheet a mile long and doesnu0026#39;t feel any need to change her behavior. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe movie comes dangerously close to being another one of those intolerable comedies where Eddie Murphy or Martin Lawrence star as every character in the movie. Madeau0026#39;s family are clearly meant to resemble the Klumps, although I would be lying if I said that they were not entertaining. Uncle Joe in particular is a goofy caricature, but heu0026#39;s a hilarious one.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe problem with the movie is that it tries to be two very different kinds of films, and it succeeds in being those two kinds of films, but the combination of the two styles kills this one completely. Half the movie is a light-hearted comedy in the vein of the Nutty Professors and Big Mommau0026#39;s House, but the other half of the film is a very serious drama that deals effectively with very serious issues. Life Is Beautiful is the only movie Iu0026#39;ve ever seen that really succeeds brilliantly at this story-telling technique, but that movie worked because it tied the two genres together. Life also comes close. This one, on the other hand, just throws the two halves in the same room and then sits back while they sit there not working.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eDr. Phil makes a surprisingly hilarious cameo as a therapist that tries in vain to get Madae to admit that she has an anger management problem, which ultimately lands her in jail. Meanwhile, Josh Hardaway, the Assistant District Attorney, is experiencing a wonderfully developing career, until he meets Candace, a childhood friend who has fallen into a desperate situation after years of drugs and prostitution. He tries as hard as he can to help her despite the hysterical and ridiculous whining of his horrid fiancé.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThis is one of the worst parts of the movie, by the way. There is nothing worse than a romantic comedy that pits two suitors (male or female) against each other for the love of the main character, when one of the suitors is clearly tailor made to be the right choice and the other is an intolerable jerk-off. See 27 Dresses and youu0026#39;ll know what I mean. Joshu0026#39;s fiancé in this movie is unfortunately such a nagging, conniving wench that itu0026#39;s impossible to have any feelings towards her other than animosity. This is not a good start for a movie whose story is driven by the characters. Almost from the moment she enters the movie I was just waiting for Josh to come to his senses and boot her to the curb where she belongs.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe issues of prostitution and drugs and drugs are taken very seriously, thereu0026#39;s even a pretty intensely emotional scene involving one of the key male characters, who breaks down completely under the weight of a tragic event for which he has never been able to forgive himself. The acting is superb in this scene, but it is genuinely bizarre when Madea shows up again and we realize what the rest of the movie is like. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eItu0026#39;s impossible to tell if this is supposed to be a comedy or a drama, because both elements are done fairly well but they simply donu0026#39;t work when put together. I donu0026#39;t need my movies to be categorized, in fact I am pleasantly surprised when films cleverly bend genres, but this one gives us one character with a truly frightening history of drugs and prostitution and another character who lifts a car up on giant forklifts and then drops it 30 feet onto the pavement when a callous owner steals her spot at K-Mart.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eUltimately Madea and Candace get locked up in the same prison, and the two stories attempt in vain to come together. I wonu0026#39;t say that all of the character are utterly uninteresting, although there are several points where a stupendous lack of screen writing ability is made abundantly clear. Consider this exchange between Candace and her new cell-mate, who happens to be one of her old, close friends – u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eCandace: u0026quot;You look good.u0026quot; Cellmate: u0026quot;Yeah, Iu0026#39;m doinu0026#39; good. How you doinu0026#39;?u0026quot;u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAre you serious? Iu0026#39;m doinu0026#39; good? How you doinu0026#39;? Is this an inside joke? Youu0026#39;re both in prison! Who says theyu0026#39;re doinu0026#39; good or asks someone else how theyu0026#39;re doinu0026#39; when both of them are in prison? u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eBut maybe Iu0026#39;m nitpicking. There are moments of fun in the movie, there are a few laugh out loud moments, and there are some moments of pretty impressive acting, but the movie as a whole, unfortunately, adds up to something much, much less than the sum of its parts.”

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