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

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

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.