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After nine Madea films, only two of which I’ve seen, Tyler Perry has chosen to pull the plug on the “iconic” character with this latest outing, A Madea Family Funeral. Having experience with two of the least popular films in the franchise, it’s safe to say that I had more fun with this than either of the Boo! films.
Tyler Perry returns to direct, star, and write once again for A Madea Family Funeral. While aspects of this film may not be top notch cinema, I have to give praise to Perry for being able to properly orchestrate dramatic (more so melodramatic) scenes and a majority of the time having them hit in some capacity. I wouldn’t say his direction is the most fluent, as there’s a lot of focus on himself and Madea’s friends and relatives instead of locating the shot on the situation that’s being spoken of. This is most noticeable during a scene at a hotel where you can’t see the main reason the scene exists and instead get an entire scene of jokes revolving around the thing we can’t visibly see to understand the humor completely. His film isn’t incoherent though, it just doesn’t feel like it belongs in a modern cinema or arthouse, instead seemingly more meant for a straight to television movie.
I think I’ve more or less figured out Tyler Perry’s secret to making these films...he takes a Hallmark/Lifetime movie plot and just adds Madea/friends for commentary. The writing is incredibly predictable, and the humor falls flat a vast majority of the time, however when it works, it actually works quite well. When it comes to dialogue and plot scenarios, the film is lacking entirely of great quality, with plenty of the scenes feeling as though the actors, namely Perry, made the dialogue up on the spot. For those curious of the plot details, after a secret affair within the family is revealed to several relatives, they must keep the secret to themselves after the cheating relative passes away. During this scenario, Madea and family have a difficulty controlling themselves while hijinks occur during the ceremony. Predictable, slightly cliché, and certainly the quality of something you would find on network television, it’s not something you should race out to see; on the tv it may be worth a watch, and that’s exactly where it’s meant to be.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
In many people’s eyes, Madea is either overdone by now, or on the contrary, a “classic” character. But everyone knows Madea whether they want to or not. For myself, with this being the third time seeing the character in action, I actually found her to be quite funny. While sure, her dialogue at times fell completely flat on the curb, other times it had me struggling for air. I had several really enthusiastic chuckles during this final film, and that’s in part for Perry’s performance as Madea and Joe particularly. However when it comes to Madea's friends, Hattie and Bam, Hattie is inexcusable as a character - she is literally one of the worst character in feature film history, and Bam is just kind of there, as she really never causes too much trouble. But placing Tyler Perry’s characters aside, the Hallmark movie we are left with is less than thrilling with poor performances all around, which makes the one strong performance near the film’s finale by actress Jen Harper as the mother shine so thoroughly. Her monologue with her children giving confessions is possibly the only reason the film held up for me besides the hilarious occasional joke from Madea or Joe. Lots of wasted talent and flat jokes ruin what this film could have been with much feeling rushed and improvised on the spot for the scene.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score resembles that of a made-for-TV drama: generic and unoriginal. It has nothing to offer people who want something even slightly different than the usual affair. The sound effects are average at best, but nothing stands out as being particularly clever or decent in my mind, so I’d say it missed several opportunities with its audio choices.
Since back when Norbit debuted, it’s not that often that we see an actor other than Tyler Perry putting on and taking off this much makeup to play several crucial roles in a film. The makeup is fantastic; it’s clearly prosthetics and the movie magic may be wearing thin on these character designs, but the performance given by Perry makes them come to life. Perry’s characters get a big thumbs up in the makeup and costume department, while Madea’s friend Hattie is not only annoying, but looks awkward as well. It amazes me that Perry can look great in his makeup as both a woman and a man, while smaller characters such as Hattie and even Bam look nowhere near the level that Perry does. However, beyond Perry’s four characters, the makeup is either lackluster on the smaller characters, or simply just doesn’t exist.
A Madea Family Funeral is the final film in the franchise, and while I personally don’t believe it to be true, we have to take it at face value. So as a final film in a long running series, I have to say that this film is average at best; sure I chuckled, sometimes belted out laughing, but a majority of the runtime I was looking at my watch for the time. For fans of Perry’s Madea series, you should probably check this one out, but just be warned that this feels like another adventure with the character and not at all like a conclusion to her or any of Perry’s characters’ stories.