Plot: What’s it about?
Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) and his partner John (Paul Giametti) are special agents who have been working on an escaped prisoner case, but it seems like all their hard work is about to tossed out the window. The two have been watching the home of Big Momma (Ella Mitchell), who is the grandmother of Sherry (Nia Long), who happens to be the girlfriend of the escaped federal prisoner. The special agents think Sherry might contact Big Momma and even though they haven’t seen each other in years, Sherry might reveal some information about the escaped prisoner. This would mean a good lead and more than likely, the two would be able to capture the felon. But, Big Momma was just called away to a medical emergency of some type, which means the agents are left with no Big Momma to greet Sherry and her young son. Rather than let the case slip out of their hands, Malcolm decides to go deep undercover as Big Momma and that means a lot of courage, a lot of makeup, and a whole lot of latex. Can even a veteran & skilled agent like Malcolm pull this one off, or will they have all their work flushed down the drain, like Big Momma’s strained prunes?
I knew this movie would be hilarious from the trailers, but I know many of you out there dislike the antics of Martin Lawrence. His comedic style is not everyone, but for fans of his, Big Momma’s House is a must see motion picture. Lawrence is joined by a nice band of supporting players like Nia Long & Paul Giametti, who add a lot to the depth of the movie. The laughs come from all over the board, but I will say this film uses some low brow humor in heavy doses, so if bodily functions & crude humor offend you, keep out of Big Momma’s House. From bathroom related jokes to sexual innuendo to a large woman getting butt naked, the entire spectrum of crude humor is shown here and it is all downright hilarious. As always, Lawrence sells the material very well and although he spends much of the film inside a massive costume, his unique style is still ever-present. A few of the jokes fall flat, but most of them hit the funny bone dead on. There is also a lot of variety found within the film, so the humor always seems fresh, never dull or redundant at all. If you’re a fan of Lawrence or just want a new comedy to check out, Big Momma’s House would be a very wise choice.
The man that makes this film work is Martin Lawrence, who used this movie to establish himself as a real box office draw and I cannot wait to see what his future projects will be. His usual antics are all present in this film, but he also spends a lot of time inside a giant latex costume, which couldn’t have been too much fun. Despite the adverse conditions, Lawrence delivers his lines in his usual hilarious manner and nothing seems to be lost in the process. You can always tell Lawrence is having fun within this role and I imagine several of his funnier lines were improvised, which he is known for being skilled at. His humor is crude & profane at times and as such, it is not for us all, but I think Lawrence is one of the funniest men in the business at this time. You can also check out Lawrence in such films as Blue Streak, Life, Bad Boys, Nothing To Lose, and House Party. The cast of Big Momma’s House also includes Nia Long (Boiler Room, Held Up), Anthony Anderson (Romeo Must Die, Urban Legends: Final Cut), Terrence Howard (Best Laid Plans, Mr. Holland’s Opus), Ella Mitchell (Lord Shango), and Paul Giametti (Man on the Moon, Donnie Brasco).
Video: How does it look?
Big Momma’s House is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I saw a few small flaws, but on the whole this is a superb visual presentation. I detected a few marks on the source print, but nothing to become stressed over and as far as compression errors, a couple minor instances were all I noticed. So the problems with this transfer are minimal, but I still figured I should mention them in this review. The colors look rich & bright and never smear, while flesh tones appear natural and warm also. I couldn’t see any troubles with the contrast either, as detail level was high at all times and black levels were strong & well balanced. This is another excellent anamorphic transfer from Fox, who seems to keep improving with each release.
Audio: How does it sound?
In a dialogue driven comedy like this one, the surrounds see little action, but that is the intended presentation. The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a very good one and I am pleased it doesn’t attempt to force the surround use, which would result in a harsh overall experience. This is a very natural track and while little surround use is found outside of the musical soundtrack, this track suits the material to perfection. The rear channels kick in when they need to of course, but the front channels dominate this one. The vocals are the main focus and come through in fine form here, no volume or clarity issues arise and I heard no distortion in the least. This disc also includes 2.0 surround tracks in English & French, as well as subtitles in English & Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This one is steeped in bonus features, including two music videos; one is by Lil Bow Wow and the other by Jermaine Dupri featuring NAS and Monica. I’m not a fan of this music style, but those who do enjoy it will be pleased with these two inclusions. A reel of outtakes & bloopers is present also and while not all of them are hilarious, they are all humorous at some level. You can also view two alternate sequences, with or without audio commentary and I like that the audio option was offered. Speaking of audio commentary, this disc also houses a full length commentary for the film itself, with director Raja Gosnell and producer David Friendly. This was a decent level audio track, but it was dull at times and that lowers the value in my opinion. I wish Martin Lawrence could have recorded a track for this movie, now that would be a classic commentary! A twenty-two minute featurette also appears here, which contains various interviews and behind the scenes footage. Rounding out the extras is the film’s theatrical trailer, a reel of television spots, and a makeup test sequence.