I've seen too many of these damn movies. Of course I'm qualified.
Tyler Perry Is a Special Type of Filmmaker
Tyler Perry. What the hell can I say about this guy as a director/writer/producer/actor? Perry has a unique style of crafting cinematic adventures in ways that I am truly not accustomed to in all my years of studying film. No, I do not mean that in the positive sense. This man somehow finds new and innovative ways to make creatively terrible movies, I don’t quite understand how he does it. I really don’t. Every year, Tyler Perry comes out with at least one brand new directorial effort. Every year, I say to myself that there is no way that Perry can make a worse production than the last. No way. Every year, he proves me wrong again and again.
Tyler Perry is a cinematic genius in how he never seems to improve upon his last film ventures, only shifting his sights around to fumble other elements even harder than ever before. It takes a special mind to accomplish what Tyler Perry has in his filmography, which is the only reason why I persist to watch his “craft” progress. A Madea Family Funeral surprisingly is the cherry on top of Perry’s sh*t cake career.
The Excuse of a Plot
A family reunion planned to celebrate the anniversary of a longtime married couple takes a turn for the worse when the husband and father of three unexpectedly passes away from a sudden heart attack. Leaving Madea (Tyler Perry) and the gang (Also mostly Tyler Perry) to plan a funeral and help this grieving family in their time of need through hilarious shenanigans.
I Used “Hilarious” in the LOOSEST of Terms
It would be so easy to just say, “the movie isn’t funny”. However, simply calling A Madea Family Funeral (or any Tyler Perry movie) “not funny” doesn’t come close to scratching the surface with what is actually wrong with the film. Yes, the movie isn’t funny; it’s also not focused, confusingly structured, sometimes poorly acted, doesn’t nearly reach the quality of visual aesthetics to justify a theatrical screening, headache inducingly written, and all around flabbergasting with how little the “plot” matters in the grand scheme of this movie. There isn’t even a body available for there to be a ‘family funeral’ until about the forty-minute mark. There is so much more to this movie to touch on than simply not being humorous.
Whether there’s a funeral or not really doesn’t matter to the movie because its sole interests reside in Tyler Perry adlibbing with Tyler Perry for the majority of the film’s runtime. That is what A Madea Family Funeral is truly about; not the inner turmoil of this family losing a dear loved one, most of the time they barely acknowledge the deceased’s existence. We, as the audience, receive no insight or development on any of the family members in general. There isn’t any sort of backstory or character details provided with anyone, including the very man who actually dies; the father/husband of this family has one scene while he is alive that is literally only forty seconds long. I’m not joking, I’m not exaggerating in any way; the man that the movie’s whole title relies on there being a funeral, he gets forty whole seconds of screen time. After his forty seconds are up, he is not actually seen once (alive) and his character officially dies approximately twenty-six minutes later from his introduction. Someone had to try exceedingly hard to fail this drastically in writing such an inept screenplay.
Rather than getting any real depth or information about this grieving family, we get sprinkles of melodrama involving cheating spouses and secret sibling treacheries barely squeezed in between Madea and her friends sitting in various rooms talking back and forth about basically nothing. Madea, Joe, Brian, Aunt Bam, and Hattie are the stars of this movie; this “narrative” only exists to drop this group into extraordinarily lazy antics that add up to nothing and go nowhere fast. Not to mention Tyler Perry’s new character, Heathrow, who sucks up a decent chunk of screen time pretty much as a means for when Tyler Perry couldn’t figure out a way to write in his other three characters that he portrays, so he brings in this substitute to fill out more scenes with him adlibbing as another old pervert. Oh joy.
It's All Tyler Perry
Seriously, the majority of the film is Tyler Perry as his various characters (Madea, Joe, Brian, and Heathrow) riffing with his two other idiot characters (Hattie and Aunt Bam) and they are all so annoying. Obnoxious and obvious jokes are all that spew out of these characters’ mouths and it becomes physically painful to sit through after nearly two hours. A Madea Family Funeral is an hour and forty-five minutes long, that is including the bloopers during the end credits, which yes I am counting because I sat through that crap too. I never once laughed, I never once felt charmed by their personalities, and I definitely did not become invested in anything that was going on. Tyler Perry and Tyler Perry and Tyler Perry and Cassi Davis and Patrice Lovely and Tyler Perry aggravated me immensely every time a line would come out of their mouths.
I don’t know who in the world finds this group of morons so funny, but I can’t stand them. I really can’t. I don’t get the appeal, they’re loud and abrasive, that’s about all that there is to them. Not to mention that these characters break the tone that is established with any sort of drama that occurs in between or during their antics.
Madea, when she’s not sassy then she’s either beating someone up or screaming her head off. Pretty much the same goes for Hattie and Aunt Bam, except they constantly reference more jokes based on weed or wanting to have sex with anything that moves. Joe, for the most part, has three jokes to him: ogling young women, talking about how much of a pimp he is, and saying that Madea is a dude. That’s it. Heathrow is more or less the same as Joe only uglier, has no legs, and talks with a voice box. That’s about the only difference between those two. Then there is the character of Brian who is just Tyler Perry not wearing any makeup and is the generically bland straight man to either set up or react to the zaniness of the other characters. Ta-da.
Structure of Story
The structure of the movie is as follows; some exposition with the younger family members to basically establish information to one another that they should already know about; such as who they are and why they are there in the first place, but because there is now an audience watching them they feel the need to explain it again out loud. Then cut to Madea and her wise cracking friends to adlib for several minutes about pretty much anything except for what could possibly pertain to the plot, usually their scenes are centered on these characters attempting to complete what should be a very easy task yet somehow is always prolonged by Madea and her friends not knowing when to shut up.
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For example, all these characters have to do when they are introduced is drive from their house to the hotel that they will be staying at for the duration of this family reunion. Something that most movies would spend a couple minutes maybe to touch on and then quickly move along to more important matters. Not this movie. This movie makes sure to focus on just that for about fifteen minutes straight with them talking about nonsense or them being pulled over by a coked out police officer that is freaking out at the slightest move that any of them make in the car, only so they can adlib about how all cops are just looking for an excuse to shoot them. What does any of this have to do with the movie’s supposed premise? Nothing. Was it important or does it effect anything that happens later in the narrative? Not even remotely. Why was it there? Because Tyler Perry wanted more scenes with the ‘stars’.
Wedged in between all of that, there are small doses of the other family members with melodrama involving infidelity, but is quickly glossed over so we can watch Madea and her friends jibber jabber about more nonsense that has nothing to do with anything.
Eventually it briefly gets into the plot, sort of. The character A.J. (Courtney Burrell) is having an affair with his own brother’s fiancé (Brother’s name is Jessie). During A.J. and the fiancé’s naughty sexy hotel time together, A.J. discovers that in the very room next door is his own father (Derek Morgan) who seems to be having sex as he recognizes his father’s moans… terrifying to think about. A.J. rushes over to get to the bottom of things when it appears that his father has suffered from a heart attack while having his own affair with another woman who is apparently a friend of the family. Another plot point that one would think is fairly straightforward to get across, right? Wrong. We need the input of Madea her idiot friends to chime in about the father’s erect dead d*ck and Joe to ogle the half-naked woman standing in the hotel room. No worries though, all while this is going on, no one bothers to try calling an ambulance or anything. Their focus is entirely on making d*ck jokes about the scenario where a close relative could possibly be dying. And for whatever reason, the father’s body and face are mostly hidden from the camera this whole scene, as though they couldn’t get the actor back on a particular day of shooting so they replaced him and horribly tried masking it with awkward camera angles.
Taking Our Time
Even though when it comes to the actual plot of the movie being simple in what should come next in a timely manner, the pacing moves at what feels like an eternity to slog along. The father is last discovered to have had a heart attack at minute twenty-seven, yet this character is still alive completely offscreen for the next ten minutes of screen time until it is revealed that he passes away. The only reason it takes so long to kill this character off is because the next two scenes need to focus on Heathrow insisting that he keeps a hold of the family reunion cake, then Madea and the obnoxious three adlibbing about everything under the sun again while waiting in a hospital lounge which looks suspiciously like they probably filmed this scene in the exact same hotel the characters were just in.
After that, instead of getting more into what this family is going through emotionally after the sudden loss of their father/husband, we need another scene with Madea and company sitting around as they utter endless amounts of unfunny jokes. However, this time around, Madea and her friends are finally united with Heathrow in a scene together so they may make inappropriate comments in the middle of the tragedy that was just bestowed on this family. Never has a cinematic team-up been more epic than this since Marvel’s Avengers assembled on the big screen back in 2012. If you can’t read that I’m being facetious there then A Madea Family Funeral was likely made for you.
The Worst Character
At this point in the movie is when more light is shed onto what is the absolute worst character in the entire flick, A.J.. When the movie actually allows more screen time for these younger family members, we see how much of a monster A.J. is to his siblings and his wife. Not only is he cheating on his wife with his own brother’s fiancé, he verbally abuses his wife for no good reason and even when his wife is doing her best to tend to him physically, he lashes at her for touching him so he can go down into the basement to text his brother’s fiancé (which by the way, they are all under the same roof) to come down and have sex with him. Which, by the way, A.J.’s favorite excuse to make for whenever he wants to be an asshole is, “My daddy just died”. I don’t know if he noticed, but literally everyone in that household’s daddy just died. That doesn’t give him the right or leniency to act like a total jerk to everyone around him or to get a free pass to f*ck his brother’s fiancé. That isn’t the only time he tries having sex with her in the same house either, since he pulls basically the same stunt later on.
A.J. is just a horrible character, not only for being such an awful presence any time he pops up in a scene, but because the audience is somehow supposed to find some sort of redemption in this character in the last act and it fails. There is no genuine character arc with this guy, he’s just a d*ck. Continuously berating anyone who calls him out on his bull and acts like a privileged, whiny brat. Somehow we’re supposed to forgive and forget all of that whenever he supposedly wants to change only after he was caught on his cheating. Sorry, not buying it. A.J. would be the villain of Tyler Perry’s Temptation 2 if he ever made that movie and there would be no real reason to ever forgive this guy, he is an irredeemable character that I couldn’t care less if he made amends with his wife or brother. Seems like they’d be better off without him anyways.
The Funeral Scene
For the most part, every scene is set up the same exact way; younger cast members going through overly dramatic and convoluted infidelity subplots so that the Madea squad can joke about it. But then there’s the funeral scene… I mentioned before that most scenes with adlibbing Tyler Perry felt as though they lasted an eternity, the funeral scene makes all of those other scenes feel like a blink of an eye. They were nothing compared to what was the copious amounts of adlibbing and pointless singing that would not end. The wrap-around joke of the funeral scene is making fun of the fact that it’s a funeral that is lasting far too long, but it’s a joke that does not work when I’m just as bored and miserable as the people sitting in that church waiting for it to mercifully be over with. One character after another standing up at the podium only to make inappropriately bad jokes and then usually randomly sing. Over and over. I thought to myself, “This is it, I’m in hell. This is what hell is, Tyler Perry refusing to shut the f*ck up and leave me alone.” I literally prayed for the scene to end, God took his time, but he eventually freed me from my purgatory of Perry. Unfortunately the scene ended by having the father’s erect dead penis pop open the lid of his eternal casket, resulting in Madea and everyone screaming their heads off as they all ran out of the church. Not exactly sure as to why they had to scream and run from the corpse’s hard-on, but at the time I was just thankful that the scene died.
The Third Act
So, what I believe is supposed to be the ‘climax’ of the film is when all the secrets and sexual shenanigans come to a head after the funeral with the whole family gathered in the den of the house. Because of course we have yet another scene where most of the wacky characters need to be sitting down. Does Tyler Perry not like to stand? Anyways, I’m getting distracted. A.J. reveals to the whole family that his father was having an affair with the family friend, who’s name I have forgotten and don’t care to lookup. Although this information shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to A.J.’s siblings since during the funeral, apparently the dozens of the father’s sexual partners showed up to pay their respects. Wow.
Because A.J.’s show and tell subject angered the family friend, she reveals to the family that A.J. was having sex with Jessie’s fiancé. This causes a minor dispute between the two siblings, more or less measuring d*cks, when their mother breaks her silence by dropping the bombshell that she actually hated their father because he had always been a cheater and an emotionally abusive man in general to her. Claiming that the only reason she persevered through all of his hurtful acts was for the children. This is actually one of the few elements from the script that had a phenomenal amount of potential that could have worked if provided more focus, especially since Jen Harper’s performance as this grieving widow who actually despised her now deceased husband is really good. There could have been so much more here that would have developed this complex character and this nothing story into something actually engaging. Alas, she is barely a secondary character as everyone takes a backseat to Madea and company. This is possibly the biggest crime of the entire screenplay, presenting a promising idea for a premise that is completely wasted to make room for lazy d*ck jokes and a bunch of yelling. Only Tyler Perry could achieve something this mind blowing in the incompetence of writing. I did say he was special, didn’t I?
The next day following the melodramatic events of the night prior turns out to be the final moments of the film. Madea and friends sitting in a den cracking more bad jokes, what a twist. Commenting through the ‘resolutions’ of A.J. with his wife and brother, who are both now rather determined to separate themselves from A.J. in their own lives. Madea tells them that they all need counseling. Jen Harper shows back up at the house with Mike Tyson saying that she’s going to Las Vegas with him. Madea and her tweedled-dee-dumbasses rush out of the house saying that the younger characters have to figure out their own problems now. Cut to black. Credits roll. That is how the movie dies. I’m not even going to say that it ended because that would insinuate that there was an ending. There is no ending. Endings include actual resolutions of some kind. There is no resolution here. Tyler Perry ran out of what to write so he called it quits because he had to start shooting the movie right after his lunch break, I am convinced that is what really happened.
Oh and These Two
I have nothing to say about these two characters. In fact, I’m sure anyone reading my review wouldn’t have guessed that the two brothers that I mentioned previously also have a sister that is married. Honestly, this makes no difference as they both hold no consequence on anything that happens in the film. They are in the entire movie with barely any dialog, no identifying qualities aside from the fact that the husband is bulky and the sister has a bit of a cold personality, no character arcs, no reason for even existing within this story; they’re nothing characters that the movie is under the impression that they somehow matter? I beg to differ. That’s all I got on them. They serve nothing of any value and only wasted that much more of my time.
What More Is There?
I really have nothing more here to delve deeper into without causing myself an aneurysm. Character development is nonexistent, the three act structure is totally eradicated, the premise of the film is not in any way shape or form the true focus of the film, there is a mess of subplots crammed into elongated scenes filled entirely with adlibbing about nothing of importance and cringeworthy jokes. In regards to the acting, I guess it’s fine in comparison to what I’ve seen in Perry’s films before, but there are still a number of lines that are read in a very stilted fashion by the actors. Jen Harper does deliver the best performance with very little character writing that could have easily supported much more of the film if given the right opportunity, although because that opportunity is wasted only irritates me even more so. On a technical basis, it is significantly uninspired to be anything more than a standard Hallmark channel movie of the week. Sadly, that is an improvement in regards to Perry’s prior films and how badly they were made.
This is barely a movie, which seems to be Tyler Perry’s continuing motif when he produces a new picture. There aren’t real stories being told through Perry’s vision, there are only excuses and plot contrivances in order to involve Madea and her band of misfits into another wacky tale. Most of those tales involve the majority of his characters sitting in a room and chatting about no