Tyler Perry Back in Drag as Sassy Senior Citizen


Madea's Family Reunion DVD: Standard Edition







Madea's Family Reunion
            Film Review

When we last encountered Mabel “Madea” Simmons, the revenge-minded sister
was pistol-whipping her granddaughter’s philandering husband in the Diary of
a Mad Black Woman. This time out, the sassy senior citizen has toned-down
her act to offset her trademark intensity with equal measures of
inspirational advice.
  As a result, Madea's Family Reunion is a far better film than the first in
that it not only dishes out endless belly laughs, but also offers food for
thought, opportunities for introspection and several uplifting messages.
Perhaps just as importantly, the picture offers one of those rare cinematic
experiences where we get to see a recognizable African-American community
grappling with an array of real-life issues, as opposed to the typical
urban-oriented comedy’s superficial send-up of offensive, jive stereotypes
interested in nothing deeper than insulting some artificial aspect of each
other’s supposed social status.
Here, Madea and Uncle Joe, both played by writer/director Tyler Perry, are
the only characters allowed to indulge themselves in the sort of
over-the-top nonsense which marked the original. Meanwhile, the rest of
their relatives find themselves enmeshed in messy melodramas.
Lisa (Rochelle Aytes) is about to marry Carlos (Blair Underwood), a wealthy
banker, but she’s thinking of calling off the wedding because he’s beaten
her every day since they got engaged. Her half-sister, Vanessa (Lisa
Arrindell Anderson) is a struggling single-mom who has remained celibate
since being abandoned after her second child was born. Their mother (Lynn
Whitfield) is a conniving shrew who favors one daughter over the other and
who cares more about money than the spiritual realm.
Lucky for skeptical Vanessa, her bus driver (Boris Kodjoe) is handsome,
sensitive, available and patient, and just happens to have a crush on her.
What’s more, this knight in shining armor is a single-dad and shares her
interest in the arts. As you might imagine, subplots abound in this
multi-tentacled soap opera.
But rather than spoil the fun, suffice to say that while building up to an
eventful climax courtesy of the Simmons clan reunion, this moving morality
play seemingly bites off more than it can chew, yet convincingly addresses a
myriad of relevant themes, including incest, faith, materialism, bullying,
trust and domestic violence, all betwixt and between Madea and Joe’s
irreverent outbursts.
    The film peaks with platitude-filled soliloquies delivered by Cicely Tyson
and Maya Angelou at the big reunion which was shot on the site of an actual
slave plantation now owned by Tyler Perry. The sobering significance of this
chosen locale is not likely to be lost on those seriously contemplating the
source of all the dysfunction just witnessed on the screen. The sweeping
cinematography of the historic setting underscores the points made by the
revered family matriarchs as they share their sage insights and tie-up all
the loose-ends.
    A Tyler Perry tour de force!

Excellent (4 stars)
PG-13 for sexuality, matures themes, domestic violence and drug references.
Running time: 107 minutes
Studio: Lions Gate Films