A Madea Christmas (2013)
Directed by Tyler Perry.
Cast: Tyler Perry, Anna Maria Horsford, Tika Sumpter, Eric Lively, Kathy Najimy, Larry the Cable Guy, Chad Michael Murray, Alicia Witt, JR Lemon, Lisa Whelchel, Noah Urrea, Caroline Kennedy, Julie Ann Doan, Vicky Eng, Whitney Christopher, Steve Boles, Sweet Brown.
2013 105 minutes
Rated: (for sexual references, crude humor and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, December 12, 2013.
The eighth film featuring the most prolific, cantankerous, rule-breakin', cheek-slappin', wisdom-spoutin' old lady from Atlanta, "A Madea Christmas" is a study in racial and socioeconomic tolerance as seemingly written by a feral preschooler newly adapting to the outside world. The caricatures run rampant, the handling of the plot is quaintly insulting, and it all culminates in so many abruptly positive character reversals that its would-be goodheartedness instead comes off as ignorantly disingenuous. Tyler Perry (2012's "Madea's Witness Protection
") is both the culprit and the one source of constant light in a big-screen comedy so sloppily stitched together it feels like his directorial debut.
When department store clerk Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford) learns that her schoolteacher daughter, Lacey (Tika Sumpter), won't be coming home for Christmas, she decides to surprise her by traveling to the rural community of Bucktussle, Alabama, with her Aunt Madea (Tyler Perry) and Lacey's former high school flame, Oliver (JR Lemon), in tow. What the set-in-her-ways Eileen does not know is that Lacey has secretly eloped with the very much caucasian Conner (Eric Lively), whom she's been passing off as her farmhand. As the charade grows all the more sticky and Eileen and Madea end up sharing Lacey's home with Conner's visiting parents, Kim (Kathy Najimy) and Buddy (Larry the Cable Guy), the ailing town comes to virtual blows over finding sponsorship for the school's holiday jubilee.
Tyler Perry is at complete ease by now playing the motormouthed Madea, and he is admittedly the one reason "A Madea Christmas" goes down so easily. The film itself is rather atrocious, from technical blunders that should have been reshot, poor blocking in abundance, and interpersonal conflicts that inadvertently play as parody. Perry's vision of the God-fearin' Deep South is so antiquated and stereotypical the only thing that's missing is straw hanging from the townspeople's mouths. The cast is amiableit's great to see the underrated Kathy Najimy (2012's "The Guilt Trip
") back in actionbut they're all stuck having to act below their normal intelligence in a hackneyed story that spoon-feeds its messages to the viewer while devising just-plain-wrong set-pieces involving a run-in with the Ku Klux Klan and the crucifixion of a bratty little white girl. Christmas spirit is in short supply in "A Madea Christmas" until the last five minutes, and even then it's as incessantly manufactured and artificially flavored as a Hostess Twinkie.