Review of Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
on 2012-03-29 15:43
With the success of the original Big Momma's House, it is no surprise that a sequel was made. Unfortunately, the sequel wasn't as funny, which placed a lot of doubt on Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son. The good news is that this third entry into the franchise is a big improvement upon the first sequel.
FBI Agent Malcolm (Martin Lawrence) is back and working on a case where a murdered Russian mobster (Tony Curran) hid an incriminating flash drive in the Georgia School for the Arts. The flash drive must be procured in order to solve the big case. Malcolm must once again don his fat suit and facial prosthetics as southern matriarch Big Momma.
The twist here is that he must also take along his stepson Trent (Brandon T. Jackson), who isn't thrilled about dressing up as Charmain Pierce, his new alter-ego. That is, until he finds out he will be in the dorms with some very pretty young co-eds. One of them, Haley (Jessica Lucas), is a smart and beautiful musician who Trent wants to woo in the worst way. Part of the movie is spent exploring how close the two become and before setting up the inevitable reveal that Charmain is really Trent, and the resulting betrayal that Haley feels.
While Trent is fighting his growing feelings, Big Momma is going on one adventure after another including a car chase and several mishaps that allow her to give her signature southern advice. There are plenty of small life lessons doled out throughout the film, but they stop short of sounding too preachy. This is good, since few would expect to have big life lesson takeaways from what is basically just a silly, slightly madcap comedy. The fact that it stops short of being too preachy is its saving grace.
The middle of the movie does lag a bit, but only long enough to set up the conclusion. Fans of the previous Big Momma movie know that there has to be some sight gags and funny mistaken identity twists before the case can be solved. The casting of an unbilled Faizon Love as security guard Curtis Cool fits the bill nicely. This kooky guard is instantly attracted to Big Momma's ample curves and down-home charm. Some of the funnier scenes in the film have Lawrence's Big Momma fending off the love struck Cool and his romantic advances.
Despite the genius casting of Love as Lawrence's not-quite-romantic interest, the real jewel of director John Whitesell's crown here is the musical scenes. Haley is a musician who has dreams of a musical scholarship to a big school. There are plenty of scenes allowing her and her classmates to show off their musical talent. The fact that the main setting of the movie is at an art school means that there are also singers and dancers to join in the fun.
The best scene involves a song-and-dance number that spontaneously breaks out inside the school cafeteria. It is the best part of the film and also makes the audience wonder why more big musical numbers like that one were not put into the movie. A big opportunity may have been lost here. There likely won't be a Big Momma: The Musical but perhaps there should be. The musical numbers leave the audience wanting more, and wondering what may have been if music played a bigger role.
Overall, Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son isn't going to win any awards, but with a new setting and musical numbers, it is a big improvement over the previous Big Momma film and brings back some of the charm that made the first film such a big success.