MRR Review: "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas"

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

MRR Review: "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas"

Rating: PG-13 (sexual references, crude humor, and language)

Length: 105 minutes

Release Date: December 13, 2013

Directed by: Tyler Perry

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Madea mightnot have a firm grasp on the meaning of Christmas, but that doesn't stop her from playing Santa Claus when a friend needs her. She visits her friend's daughter in a small country town and winds up working as a mall Santa. While in town, Madea can't help but get drawn into some family theatrics and drama. It just might take her larger-than-life approach to love and problem solving to make sure things get worked out for the confused family she happens to be spending the holidays with.

Madea is known for her charm and rough-around-the-edges demeanor, but her advice is often underappreciated and overlooked. Featuring Tyler Perry's most recognizable and beloved character, "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas" is the seventh addition to the Madea franchise, and not the first film that finds Madea helping out a troubled family besides her own. While Madea has been in jail more than once and deals with her own fair share of relationship issues and financial problems, it seems that troubled people are drawn to her wherever she goes. In this movie, she dishes out some tough love and realistic if unorthodox wisdom to help her niece Eileen set things right with her family.

It's a good thing that Madea has plenty of resolve, because she certainly has her work cut out for her when she arrives in the small rural town. As it turns out, Eileen's daughter Lacey isn't the only one in the family who has been harboring some serious secrets. Madea begins to get to the bottom of things and stirs up more trouble than she bargained for. While Eileen's family might think they want to know the truth, accepting it is easier said than done. Only time will tell whether the family will crumble or if they will stand together, stronger than ever, when their various truths come out.

Unlike with most Tyler Perry films, Perry himself only portrays Madea. The director, writer, and actor is known for his multiple appearances as various characters, both male and female. Anna Maria Horsford stars as Eileen, Madea's niece and a character who also appears in some of the other Madea films. Eileen is a charming woman who loves her family more than life itself but isn't always prepared for the surprises her family members bring with them. As she attempts to adjust to life with grown, adult children, she finds it harder to let go of the mothering role she once took and simply relate to her children as friends. Eileen's relationship with her daughter Lacey is particularly troubled by this, compounded by the fact that Lacey has some big secrets of her own. Eileen just wants the holidays to go off without a hitch, especially because it's the first time she's seen her daughter in quite a while, but things never seem to go according to plan where Madea is involved.

Tika Sumpter makes an appearance as Lacey, a beautiful young woman who is charting her own course in life. Eric Lively portrays Conner, Lacey's love interest and a source of considerable conflict in the family. All Conner wants to do is enjoy the holidays with his love, but Conner and Lacey's families aren't exactly a match made in heaven. While Lacey's family is prim and proper, Conner's is far more laid back and immersed in the country culture of their small town. Two worlds are bound to collide, especially when Lacey's mother doesn't fill her in on her plans to visit for Christmas. Not only is Eileen bothered by the lack of polish and etiquette in her future in-laws, but her daughter has also fallen in love with a young man who happens to be white. While Eileen has never considered herself someone who harbors prejudices, she finds herself questioning her own beliefs when her daughter is dating someone of a different race.

Ultimately, it's up to Madea to bring Eileen around to the idea that the love Lacey and Conner share is genuine, regardless of what color their skin may be. Things are never easy around the holidays, and that realization does not come without plenty of drama and mishaps along the way. Lacey and Conner are a sweet couple, and their love manages to stand out amidst the chaos between their two families. "A Madea Christmas" is all about challenging assumptions and being open to new people and experiences through the holidays and beyond. This is one Madea film no one should miss.

Rating: 3 out of 5