Madea Goes to Jail

"Good"

Madea Goes to Jail Review


For playwright and filmmaker Tyler Perry, the character of Mabel "Madea" Simmons has always been his entertainment trump card, his anarchic ace in the hole, so to speak. The loud-mouthed, gun-toting, pot-smoking grandma with a wealth of attitude and a penchant for pop culture cross-references has always been his audience window, his way for even the most jaded member of his revival like crowd to connect to his "Go with God" morality tales.

Over the last few years, however, Perry (who plays the bossy battleaxe in full blown comic drag) has tried to wean his fan base off of Madea. She was absent from his last film (The Family that Preys) and had only a minor cameo in Meet the Browns. But now she's back, and while Madea Goes to Jail is wholly watchable, it's also an uneven experience.

After a childhood lost in the ghetto, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Hardaway (Derek Luke) has become a successful attorney. He's also about to marry his rich and well connected co-worker Linda (Ion Overman). While in court, he runs into Candy (Keshia Knight Pulliam), a lifelong friend who has ended up on the street as a prostitute. Feeling guilty for something that happened while they were in college, he vows to help. Naturally, this doesn't go over well with his snooty fiancé or nosy office Romeo Chuck (Ronreaco Lee). In the meantime, Madea (Perry) is also in hot water with the legal system. After an incident in the K-Mart parking lot, she's back before the judge facing five to ten, and not even her God-fearing daughter Cora (Tamela Mann) or numbskull neighbor Brown (David Mann) can help.

Madea Goes to Jail wants to be too many things at one time. It wants to be a heartfelt drama about second chances and forgiveness. It wants to be a full-blooded Bible-thumping missive, discussing the positive effects a belief in Jesus can have. It wants to show the struggles of life on the street. It wants to talk about responsibility and dependability. And it wants to be an uproarious comedy, our elderly heroine taking her "talk to the hand" mindset from the courthouse to the big house. That he manages to make most of it work is a testament to Perry's talent and the long hard road he traveled to success. That Madea Goes to Jail sometimes falls flat is also the fault of this overreaching approach.

Perry definitely plays best live. There, his combination of preaching and pratfalls (along with some amazing gospel singing) becomes almost interactive, the cast combining with the spectator to offer a shared experience. There are times when this film tries for the same strategy, Madea simply rambling on, awkward pauses planned to let the implied laughter die down before the next bit of riffing occurs. Luckily, most of Perry's ad libs are very funny. But we do sense a lack of editorial perception. Not everything Madea says is gold, and yet the storyline will literally stop so we can hear the crazed crone go off for no particular reason.

In many ways, Perry has never fully abandoned his roadshow ideal. He uses the moments of manipulative "realism" as buffers between the burlesque. We do care about Joshua and Candy, but their history is hindered by a lack of completeness. Similarly, we want to see Linda get what's coming to her, but the overtly bitchy quality of the character makes the comeuppance seem sedate, not satisfying. While his actors never let him down, Perry is still trying to find a cinematic consistency to his oeuvre. On stage, Madea makes even the most mawkish, maudlin material work. Here, she's just a stopgap to Tyler Perry advancing his motion picture prowess.

Bake me a cake with a file in it, will ya?



Madea Goes to Jail

Facts and Figures

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th February 2009

Box Office USA: $90.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $90.5M

Distributed by: Lionsgate

Production compaines: Lions Gate Films, Tyler Perry Company, The

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 35

IMDB: 4.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Madea, as Joshua Hardaway, as Candace "Candy" Washington, as Linda Davis, as T.T., as Ellen, as Donna, as Mr. Brown, as Cora Simmons, as Chuck

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.