After two decades of playing Madea on stage and screen, Tyler Perry is saying goodbye to the iconic character with a final film.
It’s too bad that “A Madea Family Funeral” isn’t the send-off that the unapologetic title character deserves. This is the least inspired installment in the nine entry comedy franchise that’s made a whopping $500 million at the box office.
Perry’s “Madea” films have never been regarded as highly entertaining or innovative. The best of the bunch – “Madea’s Witness Protection”, Christmas and both Halloween installments – have some energy and action. And each provided some memorable moments.
“A Madea Family Funeral” is basically 90 minutes of characters (including four played by Perry) sitting around and talking. Actually – sitting around and complaining. Half the time, characters are yelling at each other to “Shut Up!” Nothing funny there. Every once in a while, Madea or someone from her crew adds something that gets a mild chuckle out of the audience. Overall, the dialogue is standard and low-brow.
The story is much more of a family relationship melodrama than anything else. There are multiple generations of spouses and boyfriends/girlfriends cheating on each other. And the dysfunction is dealt with in a serious tone. There’s plenty of “blah-blah-blah” – very little “ha-ha-ha”. Perry should know by now what his audience wants in a “Madea” movie – and it’s not this. The performances are cardboard and the script could have been written in 20 minutes.
If feels very much as if Perry simply went through the motions to get “A Madea Family Funeral” made so he could finally put this character to rest. Not literally, though. As Perry has stated in interviews, Madea doesn’t die in “A Madea Family Funeral”. But hopes for a satisfying send-off do.
The actor/writer/director/producer/mogul, who turns 50 in September, is clearly ready to move on. Recent roles in “Vice” and “Gone Girl”, along with other projects – including directing last year’s “Nobody’s Fool”, have made Perry anxious to put Madea in the rear view mirror for good. And I don’t blame him. She has done basically all that she can.
There’s no showy goodbye scene in “Funeral”, but Madea does offer a few final pearls of wisdom. There’s also a surprise cameo that’s more clever than 99% of the material that comes before. And then… Madea simply exists stage right.
It’s a character that helped Perry become a media powerhouse. But, just as it’s difficult to say goodbye to a loved one at a funeral service, moving on from Madea had to be done.
If you’re a fan, my advice is to remember all the good times you had with Madea, though no fond memories will come from this film.
(And if you want a really funny movie on this subject, check-out 2010’s “Death at a Funeral”. It’s everything this film isn’t.)