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BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE

SYNOPSIS:
Master of disguise FBI agent Malcolm Taylor (Martin Lawrence) sets up a stakeout with his partner John (Paul Giamatti) to trap escaped convict Lester (Terrence Howard). Lester is keen to look up former girlfriend Sherry (Nia Long) to collect stolen money, but Sherry is scared and leaves town to visit her grandmother, Big Momma (Ella Mitchell). Everything is going according to plan until Big Momma has to unexpectedly leave town. In desperation, Malcolm transforms himself into the formidable Big Momma. But things become even more complicated when Malcolm starts to falls in love with Sherry and to make matters worse, the real Big Momma returns.

"It's loud, it's crass, it's totally unbelievable but by gum, Big Momma - it's funny. A hybrid between Mrs Doubtfire, The Associate, The Nutty Professor and Little Red Riding Hood, Big Momma's House combines slapstick, sight gags, one liners and a stupid, predictable plot, that somehow spins around and comes out as a lot of fun. Of course it's a vehicle for Martin Lawrence, and once I got over his irritating rasping voice, I found myself appreciating the craziness of his performance. Needless to say it's overdone, but Big Momma's House is not about subtlety. From fart jokes to a ludicrous childbirth scene and an encounter in Grandma's bed with a torch, I caught myself wondering why I was laughing. Maybe I was in dire need of a 'beyond sense' 'scape. This is not the kind of film that critics usually like. Like Doctor Dolittle, it's one of those critic-proof entertainments that appeal directly to the audience. Director Raja Gosnell and screenwriter Darryl Quarles have created a lunatic world inhabited by characters that we genuinely like. The atmosphere of the community is beautifully fabricated, and herein lies the film's heart. Everyone plays it for real and there's a genuine playful feeling throughout. Paul Giamatti is a great straight man, and Anthony Anderson is terrific as the dumb security officer, who is on the promise to get the 'F' but not the 'BI' in FBI. Nia Long is just right as the pretty, sugar-will-melt-in-her-mouth romantic lead, and stage actress Ella Mitchell as the real Big Momma is simply magnificent. Add a toe-tapping soundtrack, some fabulous gospel soul music as well as tempting southern food, and things are really cooking."
Louise Keller

"Call me crazy, but I notice a pattern emerging in Martin Lawrence's movies. In Bad Boys, he was a cop pretending to be his partner; in Blue Streak he was a thief pretending to be a cop and now in Big Momma's House, he's a cop pretending to be an older woman. Maybe it's time for a little variety, Martin? But leaving Lawrence's script choices aside, Big Momma's House is an amiable romp. Sure, it's basically a one-joke picture and it's been done much better before in, for example, Some Like it Hot. But it's hard to actively dislike Big Momma's House as it's humour is always affable, never vindictive, and many of the jokes do work. That said, the sight of Lawrence in drag quickly wears thin and can't sustain the movie's 100 minutes plus runtime; particularly as the plot is little more than an excuse to run a series of set piece gags. Lawrence seems to be trying to be a latter day Jerry Lewis. If that's so, he needs to find his Dean Martin. Paul Giamatti tries hard to fill that role, but his screen time is too limited to be an effective foil. This is Lawrence's vehicle and he appears in just about every scene. Although he spends much of the movie in heavy make up, he still relies heavily on his macho appeal rather than his acting skills. Nia Long plays it straight as Sherry, but she has little scope to be anything but a damsel in distress. Big Momma's House has its moments; but despite its light touch and Lawrence's best efforts, ends up being a lacklustre experience."
David Edwards

"Toilet humour; fart jokes; fat-arse jokes; fat-thigh jokes; fat miscellaneous-bits-of-anatomy jokes; undercover cop in drag jokes; undercover cop in size 35 dress who really wants to play drop-the-trousers with the Yummy who thinks he's her Mummy jokes; flashlight in the pyjamas jokes; sorry old white man wanting to get his jollies with obese black Momma jokes; kitchen mitt utility by ersatz midwife jokes; a plethora of puffy prosthetics jokes; and a myriad of general men-in-drag jokes that elevate Footy Show frolics to the realm of dry and subtle wit. A fat load of jokes, and every one of them paper thin. Big Momma's House is an oversized crass catastrophe that takes the fun out of nonsense, the slap out of slapstick and the Phat out of fat. Far from worthy of the screwball tag, it takes us by the balls and . . . well, you can figure out the rest. All the entertainment value of a 99-minute mud bath with a hippopotamus on heat."
Brad Green

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HEAR Andrew L. Urban & Louise Keller talk about the film in Real Audio.

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE (M15+)
(US)

CAST: Martin Lawrence, Nia Long, Paul Giamatti

DIRECTOR: Raja Gosnell

PRODUCER: David T. Friendly, Michael Green

SCRIPT: Darryl Quarles, Don Rhyme (story by Darryl Quarles)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael D. O'Shea

EDITOR: Kent Beyda, Bruce Green

MUSIC: Richard Gibbs

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Craig Stearns

RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 7, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

VIDEO RELEASE: January 24, 2001







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