Like Dr Dolittle, Wild Wild West, Big Momma's House is hardly sophisticated cinema, but as far as offering slapstick in a totally unbelievable plot with plenty of crass humour, it has appeal. In fact, I must admit that I found this predictable bunch of nonsense quite entertaining. It's the sort of entertainment that is ideal for friends to guffaw together over pizza and beer.
Martin Lawrence plays Malcolm, an FBI agent who goes from job to job in a different disguise. Now on a mission to trap Lester, the escaped convict, he and his partner John look up Lester's former girlfriend Sherry. After all, chances are he will be keen to collect the stolen loot! But Sherry is scared and goes out of town to visit her formidable grandmother Big Momma. When Big Momma has to leave town, Malcolm quickly transforms himself into Big Momma. And yes, you guessed it! Malcolm starts to fall in love with Sherry, Sherry is confused and then the real Big Momma returns!
Let's face it, the plot doesn't really matter, because of course, it's just a star vehicle for Martin Lawrence. And a great vehicle it is; Lawrence excels at crazy. The humour comprises of fart jokes, some bad taste gags, parody and over the top balderdash. But through the lunacy, we meet characters that have genuine appeal and between the gags we discover the film's heart. Everyone plays it for real – and after all, that's how comedy should be played.
The cast works well with Nia Long perfect as the romantic lead, but stage actress Ella Mitchell as the real Big Momma will long stay in your memory. Add the toe-tapping soundtrack, the fabulous gospel music and be tempted by the southern food – and Big Momma may be welcome in your home, albeit with no extra features.
Published July 12, 2001