You need to pity Martin Lawrence, you really do. Imagine knowing after the second, no, the first film that the franchise you’ve signed up to is a right stinker, and you have to make a third to keep the money men happy. But hey, let’s change the title of the third to fool those who were less than enamoured with the second by dropping any reference to it being ‘Number 3’. Still, third time lucky, as they say?
Well, sadly, no. Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son (as there are two ‘nicely covered’ ladies in it this time) is still moronic, chauvinistic, clichéd, and just not funny – and staggeringly less so than the first two. Lawrence still plays FBI agent Malcolm Turner who continues to run around in a fat suit impersonating a morbidly obese granny, in order to catch criminals. Questions spring to mind: Have the criminal masterminds not cottoned onto the fact that Big Momma is Turner’s alter ego by now, especially when, as in this story, there’s a leak in the Federal building? Do they not wonder how this hefty dame manages to pole-vault over furniture at record speed?
We are saved from one thing, though; Lawrence as Big Momma has stopped salivating over beautiful young women in their panties, but has past on the defective gene to his equally horny (and somewhat corny) son called Trent, played by super fly Brandon T. Jackson of Percy Jackson fame. There is an amusing repertoire going on between them, perhaps, but unless you’re a ‘street’ teen down with the urban vibe, you’ll need subtitles to work out what the devil’s being said first. Maybe it’s the not ‘dope’ Brit in me, and as the film-makers claim, they’re after the teen market this time.
Turner and Trent – aka Big Momma and great niece Charmaine – find themselves hiding out in a performing arts school for girls, after witnessing a snitch’s murder carried out by some Russian mobsters. With Big Momma as the girls’ ‘House Momma’, the boys’ key to freedom is finding a USB drive in a musical box in the school’s library that holds the evidence to put the baddies away for life. Trouble is, the performing brats have nicked the box, and unless Big Momma can crack petulant and emaciated prima ballerina Jasmine, the girls’ ringleader, played by Portia Doubleday, it’s going to stay hidden.
It’s a beautiful irony; Trent desperately wants to convince all and sundry that he’s got talent, musically – as does Jackson with comedy – and leeches after falls for stunning Haley, played by Jessica Lucas, who quite obviously does. Lawrence and Jackson’s talent merely seems to be the tired and clown-like sort of falling down, or falling over and crushing humans and objects, followed by idiotic gurning. Even Lawrence in this film seems a tad bored and deflated in his fatness by it all, and even the Twister moment that should produce some laughs falls flat on the game mat.
The film has a bunch of B-listers involved, including The Hangover’s quirky Ken Jeong as a jobsworth mailman who is easily forgotten in this; Faizon Love as Big Momma’s equally roly-poly admirer, school caretaker Kurtis Kool; and Tony Curran as Russian mob boss Chirkoff (Get it? ‘Chirk-off’?). The funniest character is Michelle Ang as acting diva Mia who goes into meltdown regularly, and often steals the moment.
As far as men dressing as women and entertaining – pantos aside, Big Momma makes Mrs. Doubtfire look like classic comedy gold. With a film that should be generating at least the odd laugh or three, the theatre was eerily quiet. Too much Momma to handle, or like an annoying relative at a party peddling out the same old jokes, just plain ‘brutal’ who seriously needs to ‘bounce’?