Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: John Whitesell
Stars: Martin Lawrence, Brandon T Jackson, Tony Curran, Jessica Lucas.
Big Momma’s: Like Father, Like Son, the third in Martin Lawrence’s unbelievably popular and successful series, was released quietly into cinemas this week without being previewed to media, which speaks volumes about its quality, or lack of. Lawrence is one of the least funny people working in film, but for some reason his movies seem to be quite popular with audiences. There is no accounting for taste! His most popular films have been the Big Momma’s House series, in which Lawrence’s character, an FBI agent, donned a fat suit to solve crimes. Even though the original Big Momma’s House had a few laughs at the sight of Lawrence donning a fat suit to go undercover, the novelty has quickly worn thin.
After all, the cross-dressing premise has driven such superb comedies as Billy Wilder’s classic Some Like It Hot, as well as Tootsie and Mrs Doubtfire. The device has also been used in lesser films like White Chicks and Sorority Boys, which traded on low brow and sophomoric humour, but even those films had more genuine wit and humour than this tired and lacklustre third film in the Big Momma series. This is an excruciatingly unfunny film that is both embarrassing and painful to watch.
In this third outing, Lawrence’s character, the hapless FBI agent Malcolm Turner, is at odds with his teenaged stepson Trent (Brandon T Jackson, from Tooth Fairy, Percy Jackson, etc). Trent has just been awarded a scholarship to Duke University, but he prefers to become a rap star. He already has a contract with a recording company, but because he is underage he needs a parent’s consent. Malcolm of course refuses to sign. Trent follows him to a stakeout, hoping to convince him to change his mind. Instead he witnesses Russian mobster Chirkoff (Tony Curran) murder an informant.
To find the evidence to convict Chirkoff, Turner goes undercover at an elite all girls’ art academy in Atlanta. Of course this means that Turner has to don the Big Momma fat suit. But he also takes along Trent, who is disguised as Charmaine, to protect him from Chirkoff and his thugs. Before you can say Fame, Big Momma is dispensing some home spun philosophy to some troubled girls, sorting out some unhealthy rivalries, and busting some dance moves.
But Trent also falls for the pretty Haley (Jessica Lucas), which sets up some sexual tension and places him in jeopardy. At the same time, Big Momma has some unwanted sexual tension of her own to deal with when she finds herself romantically pursued by an overly amorous security guard Kurtis (an uncredited Faizon Love).
Big Momma 3 is so cliched and formulaic that you can see most of the gags and comic pratfalls coming a mile away. The disappointing script from first time writer Matthew Fogel is devoid of genuine laughs, and even the characters are little more than one-dimensional cliches. John Whitesell previously directed Big Momma’s House 2, but here his direction is flat and laboured, and he squashes any attempts at humour. Lawrence’s performance is typically hamfisted and lacks subtlety, while Jackson is wooden and lacks any charisma.
Hopefully, this will be the last film in this series! One to avoid!