Tuesday 12 December 2017

Movies: Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son *

(PG, general release)

Paul Whitington

In the year 2000, Martin Lawrence followed Eddie Murphy's dubious footsteps by donning a dress and fatsuit and becoming Big Momma. It wasn't very funny, but it made a dirty sum in America, which led to a sequel, and now a third film.

Lawrence is Malcolm Turner, an FBI agent who finds it useful (and I suspect he enjoys it) to pose as a a hefty southern black woman when he goes undercover. In Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, Turner is about to entrap a Russian hoodlum when his teenage son Trent (Brandon T Jackson) follows him and witnesses a murder.

A memory stick containing information that will implicate the Russian has been hidden in an all-girls' school, and Malcolm and Trent pose as women in order to find it. Big Momma gets a job as a supervisor, and Trent becomes a student. As always in these cross-dressing capers, Trent then falls in love with a fellow student called Haley (Jessica Lucas), and finds it awkward to pose as her new best friend. Big Momma is also getting some romantic action, courtesy of school janitor Kurtis Kool (Faizon Love), who favours the larger woman.

There is not a single surprise or twist on offer in Big Momma 3, and barely enough amusement to provoke an exasperated smile. I have always found Mr Lawrence rather charmless, and his female alter ego is a curiously flat and colourless creation who fails to exploit even the obvious jokes that might have been available to her.

Why this film was made is not mysterious: it will probably make a respectable $150m or so in urban American cinemas. The real puzzler is why its studio decided to release it here, where it stands no chance of finding a market niche.

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