Making the Grades
Eddie Murphy, Tyler Perry and Martin Lawrence have all taken their turn donning the fat suit to play hefty black matriarchs in movies like Norbit, Madea’s Family Reunion and Big Momma’s House. Now Martin Lawrence is packing it on once again and going undercover as Big Momma at an all-girls performing arts school to look for hidden evidence that will convict a dangerous Russian criminal (Tony Curran).
But he’s not doing it alone.
After his stepson Trent (Brandon T. Jackson) accidentally witnesses a mafia-style murder, FBI agent Malcolm Turner is forced to hide the boy at the school with him. While Malcolm assumes the persona of Big Momma, the new housemother, Trent has to pretend to be the large woman’s niece Charmaine.
However, putting a 17-year-old boy (played by a 27-year-old actor) in a female dorm is more dangerous than leaving him out to face the thugs (Henri Lubatti, Lorenzo Pisoni) who want him dead. While Malcolm hunts for the location of the loaded flash drive and wards off advances from the school’s handyman (Faizon Love), Trent tries—often unsuccessfully—to control his male impulses, especially when he is invited to attend a girls’ pajama party.
The result is plenty of sexually charged dialogue and innuendo along with some crude anatomical slang terms. Yet, despite the circumstances, the sexual element is smaller than it could be, even when Big Momma is talked into posing in the nude for an art class.
Unfortunately, this script is often as cumbersome as the characters’ prosthetic chests, with gapping plot holes, useless scenes and illogical scenarios all contributing. (I’m sure the first rule of FBI surveillance is to turn the lights off so the criminals aren’t watching you watch them.)
Still the filmmakers manage to pull off the story with less parental concerns than previous Big Momma movies. And while sharing a dorm room may not be the ideal way to get a little dad and teen bonding time, it seems that both Malcolm and Trent learn a thing or two about the other that contributes to a better footing for this stepfather and son relationship.