5 July 2000 | Beana-4
Script merely serves as a vehicle for Big Momma's not-so-hilarious antics and escapades
Think of a Mrs. Doubtfire meets the Nutty Professor hybrid, with a smattering of Kindergarten Cop thrown in for good measure, and you've pretty much got Big Momma's House. Except the former three are all reasonable films, and, unfortunately, Big Momma's House just isn't.
When dangerous convict Howard Laster (Terrence Dashon) escapes from prison, undercover cop Malcolm (Martin Lawrence) is sent with fellow FBI agent John (Paul Giamatti) to track down Laster's ex-girlfriend Sherry (Nia Long), in the hope of luring the armed robber back in the direction of the slammer. This involves staking out the house of Sherry's Southern grandmother 'Big Momma', but when the latter leaves town Malcolm feels compelled to take on her guise, with the help of a few prosthetics and some extra padding. Things take a complicated turn, however, when Malcolm begins to fall for the beautiful, yet unknowing, Sherry.
The film bounds along like an enthusiastic dog, with the script acting as little more than a vehicle for Big Momma's 'hilarious' antics and various escapades. The action often degenerates into uninspired gross-out comedy and toilet humour as Big Momma stumbles from one rib-tickling predicament to the next, with Malcolm often only being saved by the former's reputation as a lovable and outlandish character. Big Momma attends a self-defence class. Big Momma has nasty moments on the toilet. Big Momma plays basketball. And Big Momma delivers a baby. Cue many moments of roll-in-the-aisles hilarity. Or not.
Unfortunately, convict Howard is soon forgotten as the film focuses almost solely on Lawrence, and seriously begins to grate as Big Momma's Southern screeches make up about 95% of the dialogue. The slowly developing romance between Malcolm and Sherry is also guaranteed to make audiences cringe with it's predictability.
Lawrence and Giamatti make the best of a bad job, although the audience are left wondering exactly why they took on the roles in the first place, whilst Dashon is convincing as Evil Criminal on the Loose. Predictably, all characters are shockingly two-dimensional, but to be fair, Big Momma's House does at least generate some laughs along the way.
It is difficult to see specifically who this film is aimed at, but there must be some attraction, judging by a high-grossing opening weekend in the States. However, non-existent plot and character development will ensure that many of the audience leave disappointed. Only to be seen by those who know what they're letting themselves in for.