Movie Review: Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

Do you find fat black women funny? Read on!

I have no issue with one-joke movies – if that lone joke is funny. I am especially fond of Austrian’s mispronouncing words, and it is for this reason that I own a large proportion of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s filmography. Likewise, I am an admirer of Pee-wee Herman’s career. Martin Lawrence’s Big Momma’s: Like Father, Like Son is the very definition of a one-joke movie, that being that fat black women are funny. It is with weary fingers that I type the following words: it is not funny.

Bizarrely it appears many disagree. This is Lawrence’s third outing as FBI agent Malcolm Turner and the sequel to two mega grossing films: 2000’s Big Momma’s House and Big Momma’s House 2. This time round it’s the same joke – Lawrence/Turner goes undercover by pulling on the fat suit and becoming the titular Big Momma – but told with more gusto – he’s now joined by his fellow fat suit sporting son Trent (played by U.S. comedian Brandon T. Jackson), meaning you get two Big Momma’s for the price of one. I return to my aforementioned weary knuckles: it still isn’t funny.

Perhaps the success of Lawrence’s series says something about American culture, about the nation’s issues with body dysmorphia, that age-old comedic response to laugh when you’re afraid. Or perhaps I’m just a prude. Maybe there’s something I’m missing and that fat black women are actually the comedic Holy Grail, a particularly U.S. riposte to a man falling through the door of a bar. Hang on a second while I go Google some fat black women: Aretha Franklin… no, it’s not doing anything for me. Mo’Nique… well she’s sorta funny, but not because of the dimensions of her body. 50 Cent… no, he’s actually a man. I’m still not getting it: I still don’t understand what’s funny.

That said, Big Momma’s 3 isn’t offensive. It isn’t an unkind portrayal of obesity and its themes are light and carefree. But it’s still dreadfully unfunny. If you find fat black women hilarious, you will enjoy it (and that’s a quote its creators are welcome to for the DVD release). If you don’t you won’t. Simples, eh? But my assessment is this: like the first two outings the film is vacuum of sense and reasoned humour, and contains little for developed minds. Which brings my fingers to this review’s weary parting line: Big Momma’s: Like Father, Like Son… well… it’s a drag.

James McMahon

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