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Madea's Big Happy Family

Directed by: Tyler Perry
Theatrical release: April 22, 2011
DVD release: August 30, 2011
Running time: 106 minutes
Rated: PG-13
Editor’s Rating: ** out of 5 stars

Tyler Perry movies have become synonymous with mixing outlandish slapstick comedy with serious social issues. Madea's Big Happy Family is no exception.

The theme of combining light and dark permeates throughout Madea’s Big Happy Family: Madea is caught up in her usual over-the-top shenanigans, but finds herself coming to the rescue of her niece Shirley (played by Loretta Devine) by charming Shirley's family members (as only Madea can) into attending a family dinner. Shirley desperately wants all of her children assembled together so that she can share news of her health status with them.

Oh boy, the children. The daunting task of convincing them to gather for dinner proves almost impossible as Shirley's adult offspring is each embroiled in drama of their own. Bryon, played by Bow Wow, is Shirley's only son and the youngest. He is caught-up in baby-mama drama with an impossibly ghetto girl who loves to 'sing' his name. He's recently had law troubles and is trying to walk the straight and narrow, though his selfish and demanding girlfriend, Renee (Lauren London), has other plans. Kim (played by All My Children vet Shannon Kane) is the snobbish, downright mean eldest sibling. She bears the burden of a troubled past and all of those around her, especially her patient husband Calvin (Isaiah Mustafa), pay the price. Tammy is the responsible, albeit unfulfilled sister who has no respect for her spouse and their sons have even less respect for their parents.

After some not-so-subtle wrangling, Madea follows through on the promise to unite Shirley's family for the dinner, and that's where it hits the fan. Arguments soon ruin everyone's appetite, and a long-buried family secret is revealed.

The important matter of visiting the doctor for regular check-ups and the advantages of preventative medicine is also a major focus of the film, brought to light by the insane Mr. Brown (David Mann), who is scheduled for his first colonoscopy. Madea’s daughter Cora (Tamela Mann) accompanies him to his appointment and she immediately regrets it. At the end of the day, everyone must face the truth about themselves, including Madea, with a little help from Maury Povich. Audiences are treated to a very rare side of Madea, and, yeah it's as silly as you'd expect.

Madea's Big Happy Family is not Tyler Perry’s best work, but it serves its purpose: to provide a light-hearted getaway and some laughs, all the while sending a message of the importance of love, forgiveness, family and responsibility.

*I viewed this film via my personal DVD collection.*

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