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The MPAA rated Madea's Family Reunion PG-13 for mature thematic material, domestic violence, sex and drug references.
Tyler Perry's no nonsense grandmother is back for a second round of grits and wits in Madea's Family Reunion. Following on the heels of the surprisingly popular first outing of the African-American matriarch in 2005's Diary of a Mad Black Woman, this movie has the cantankerous elderly "lady" (she's played by Perry in drag) dealing with very similar issues regarding rich controlling men and victimized women.
Holding down the family fort, along with her aging flatulence-loving brother Joe (also played by Perry), Madea's home is akin to a train station where people drop in and out, and leave their emotional baggage behind. It's also the central point for the dozens of plots lines Perry tries to squeeze in.
Among these is the story of Madea's niece Lisa (Rochelle Aytes), who is engaged to Carlos (Blair Underwood). Rich, handsome, and adoring (which is blatantly proven in the movie's opening scene when he leads Lisa into a bathroom filled with musicians and a tub of bubbles, then slowly undresses her), it appears to be the perfect match. However, we soon discover Carlos has an evil side, and is determined to control his fianc0xE9e's every move by smacking her when she disobeys.
Another sidetrack is Lisa's sister, Vanessa (Lisa Arrindell Anderson). Struggling in her personal life (for reasons revealed later on), the young woman wants nothing to do with men. Then she meets Frankie (Boris Kodjoe) the bus driver, another seemingly perfect man. He's good-looking, humble, conversational, and understanding and a devout Christian not interested in sex until marriage. He's also a single father with one son (we can only assume a terminal case of stupidity is the reason his former wife left him).
Whenever they come by, Madea is happy to hand out sage advice to these nieces regarding the evils of men who beat their wives. Yet at the same time, the aging aunt, who is caring for a young homeless child, has no problem using a leather belt for punishment after she discovers the kid has been lying.
This hypocritical message is only one element parents will want to be aware of. Uncle Joe is another. While he's not quite as sexually frank in this movie as he was in the first, his penchant for mildly incestuous humor still continues, like when he and some other men get a kick out of watching a pretty girl in short shorts fishing cold beers from of the bottom of a barrel. (I'm surprised she didn't find a few lines of Joe's script while she was down there.) Considering they are gathered together for a family reunion, the implication of a blood relationship makes this scene more than a little squirmy.
In sharp contrast, this cinematic journey has some truly heartwarming moments, with stellar orators like Maya Angelou and Cicely Tyson waxing poetic on the importance of maintaining strong African-American families. Viewers will also find rewarding moments of forgiveness, and characters striving to maintain religious values.
And that's what leaves many people who view Perry's films feeling rather motion sick. Although Madea isn't quite as rocky as Diary, the film still gyrates between humorous beatings of children, serious slapping of spouses, Uncle Joe's leering, and Christian compassion. I loved it, I hated it, I laughed, I cried, and by the end... I'm just tired. This smorgasbord of emotions may be Perry's way of portraying a "slice of life," but I have a difficult time digesting all those contradictory sentiments in 107 minutes of runtime.
Beyond the movie ratings: What parents need to know about Madea's Family Reunion...
This film contains a divergent mix of content--some of it is presented in a comedic fashion with no consequences (like Madea's use of physical discipline on children--which we see on three occasions), while other issues are depicted in a serious light (such as the scenes of spousal abuse when a man slaps and intimidates his fianc0xE9e and threatens to drop her over a high rise balcony). A man undresses a woman (no nudity shown), and a character verbally details the situation leading to a rape. Frequent arguments occur between adults as well as children, including demeaning comments and physical confrontation. Out of revenge a character pours boiling grits over a man and hits him with a frying pan. Other issues depicted are flatulence sounds and discussions, mild expletives and profanities, and characters gambling and drinking alcohol.
Talk about the movie with your family...
Near the end of the film, Cecily Tyson and Maya Angelou's characters make comments about the state of African-American families, suggesting that Black men are not living up to their responsibilities and that Black women are "more than thighs and hips." How do you feel about these statements? Do you think they only apply to African-Americans, or are these issues affecting Caucasian and other ethnic groups in our society as well?
Tyler Perry introduced the character of Madea in the prequel to this movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Poet Maya Angelou directed the production of Down in the Delta, another (more serious) film about the struggles of an African-American family. Comedian Martin Lawrence also dresses in drag for his role in Big Momma's House.
DVD Notes: Madea's Family Reunion
DVD Release Date: 27 June 2006
You'll feel like your part of the clan with the DVD release of Madea's Family Reunion. Hear all the gossip with the director commentary, catch-up on all you missed with some deleted scenes and get a peek at where the family all began with the making-of featurettes about the film and its soundtrack. Other juicy tidbits include Marriage Madea Style, the Gayner Plantation and the theatrical trailers. Audio tracks are available in English (5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital) and Spanish (5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital) with subtitles in English and Spanish.