The Collegian
Saturday, July 04, 2020

Movie Review: 'Madea Goes to Jail'

Grade: C+/B-

Starring: Tyler Perry, Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pulliam, David Mann, Tamela J. Mann, RonReaco Lee, Ion Overman, Vannessa Ferlito and Viola Davis.

What happens?

Madea, played by Tyler Perry, is at it again--getting in trouble and taking names. This time, she narrowly escapes going to jail but ends up in prison, where she learns life lessons, Madea-style. Meanwhile, an up-and-coming assistant district attorney, Joshua Hardaway played by Derek Luke, comes face to face with a friend, Keshia Pulliam, from his past who intimidates Hardaway's fiancee and also needs help evading jail for prostitution.

My Approach to Madea:

Madea has a long rap sheet under the graceful and quirky guidance of Tyler Perry and his movies require a certain sense of whimsy. Even though all of his films carry a deeper, more powerful message than a gun-toting granny who manages to escape trouble over and over again, you cannot go to watch a film like this expecting everything to make sense -- but that's OK. Just watch her like you would listen to a friend telling you a ridiculous, embellished, but good story.

What doesn't work?

The serious dialogue needs some serious revitalization. Lawyers talk like, well, caricatured lawyers and hookers talk like, well, you know. Oh, you mean you don't know what a hooker stereotype sounds like? Hmm, I thought everyone did. At times it appears as if Madea sapped all of the good lines for herself and left everyone else with the dry remains, even though the plotlines for Madea and the lawyers only briefly intersect. Hardaway's fiancee has a hair-pin trigger and never seems to want to talk to him. Despite what anyone tells you, communication is important in relationships. Also, the actual jail part only runs the last third of the movie. What could have provided comedy gold for Madea is squashed into a few moments of hilarity involving crazy, strange or mannish inmates. Additionally, everyone who needs help or refuses to give it regurgitates the same lines repeatedly and the argument gets stale.

What works?

Madea. Madea. Madea. If I knew anyone like this, I would finally have a hero. If I knew someone like this, I would probably be over at her house every day after classes in an effort to be as crazy and fantastic as she was. Or to at least be around when she loses it, which is often and violently.

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