Big Momma's House [2000]

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
No one tries very hard in Big Momma's House, so your enjoyment of this Martin Lawrence vehicle pretty much depends on how much amusement you're able to derive from a guy dressed up as a very ample woman. The setup is of the eye-rolling, only-in-Hollywood nature: Lawrence, as detective Malcolm Turner, is after a killer, and apparently the only way to capture him is to pose as the bad guy's ex-girlfriend's grandmother, who--the film cannot stress this point too much--is quite large. Apparently, Sherry (Nia Long), the young woman in question--she's as attractive as Big Momma is, well, you know--is none too bright, for she falls for Malcolm's ruse, which of course ostensibly amuses mainly because it's so transparent. She at least has an excuse--she hasn't seen Big Momma in two years--but Big Momma's oblivious friends must be functional morons. Screenwriters Darryl Quarles and Don Rhymer didn't tax themselves very much, as they have Malcolm-as-Big-Momma going through fairly predictable motions--botching a meal and delivering a baby unconventionally (Big Momma's a midwife), but ruling at basketball and self- defense and protecting Sherry while trying vainly not to flirt with her. Paul Giamatti is wasted as Malcolm's partner; director Raja Gosnell's clunky sense of comic rhythm is bewildering, because he used to be an editor (he brought a similar lack of magic to Home Alone 3). Lawrence won't have anyone forgetting Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot, Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, or Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire anytime soon. Big Momma's House benefits mainly by being first to the marketplace ahead of Eddie Murphy's The Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps; Murphy's work in prosthetics is far more accomplished, versatile, and funny. --David Kronke

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