Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Funeral
2019, PG-13, 102 min. Directed by Tyler Perry. Starring Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Ciera Payton, Courtney Burrell, KJ Smith, Rome Flynn, Jen Harper, Quin Walters.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., March 8, 2019
So long, Madea. The big-boned, mouthy matriarch in pearls and plus-size house dresses makes her farewell screen appearance in this final installment of Tyler Perry’s golden-egg-laying franchise, one that has churned out movies over the past 15 years like a promiscuous rabbit. But the memorial service in the title is not for Perry’s know-it-all grandma, but for a 60-year-old male relative who died having S&M sex with a much younger woman in a hotel room. The movie’s flaccid running gag? The corpse has a Viagra-induced boner, necessitating an open casket service. At least that joke gets one or two decent chuckles at first. Most of the jokes here flop one after the other until one finally sticks, and then it’s repeated until the laughs are milked dry.
The movie follows the rules of the lucrative series. In addition to putting on that tired gray wig one last time, Perry plays three other roles: Madea’s trash-talking ex-pimp brother, Joe; her straight-arrow (read: boring) nephew, Brian; and her never-before-seen legless brother, Heathrow, who speaks through an artificial larynx and looks like a balding Rick James. Predictably, the old farts have little but sex on the brain, a geriatric cliche that should have expired with the cancellation of The Golden Girls. Along for the ride again are Madea’s cackling-hen sidekicks, Aunt Bam (Davis) and Hattie (Lovely), who squawk and squeal as always, particularly on the topic of (you guessed) sex. And like queen-bee royalty, Madea predictably holds court over these proceedings, misquoting scriptures and lecturing the younger members of the cast with old-lady wisdom on topics such as infidelity, forgiveness, and (surprise) sex. If it ain’t broke, no need to fix it.
You could fault A Madea Family Funeral for its many other shortcomings. It runs about 30 minutes too long; the tempo of the numerous dramatic scenes is on par with drying paint; characters lack consistency from scene to scene; the dialogue sounds like a first draft that needs major editing; its occasional technical sloppiness; and so forth. You could also conclude multihyphenate Tyler Perry still has much to learn about certain fundamentals of filmmaking, despite helming the many sequels showcasing his favorite leading lady. Or maybe not. These movies have long proved to be critic-proof. While Perry’s decision to retire Madea may be the smart thing to do at this stage in his career, it still has its risks. Not killing off his muse may be the smarter decision, just in case she needs another curtain call.