Tyler Perry serves America another round of Madea in a movie that defines the word “melodramatic.”
After leading cops on a high speed chase, Madea is forced to take anger management classes. The classes do no good, of course, and she eventually lands in jail.
Meanwhile, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Hardaway (Derek Luke) tries to help a drug-addicted prostitute named Candace (Keisha Knight Pulliam) land on her feet. He asks his fiancée and coworker Linda (Ion Overman) to take on Candy’s court case. Linda is upset by Joshua’s desire to help Candy and decides to be a drama queen and separate the two through sabotage.
Candy and Josh’s storyline is supposed to be serious, while Madea’s is lighthearted. Combine them and you get an inconsistent tone. One minute Josh is crying his eyes out about his guilt-ridden past. The next minute cut to Madea “gettin gangsta” over a parking space and flipping over cars with a forklift.
Viewers have no chance to buy into the drama.
In an attempt to help Candy, Josh introduces her to an unconventional preacher named Ellen (Viola Davis). While Davis brings a genuine, straightforward personality to her character, her performance feels too serious for this movie. Throw in Mablean Ephriam, Dr. Phil and Judge Mathis, and you’ve got a list of completely unnecessary cameos.
Actors Luke and Pulliam are hard to watch at times. Most of their interaction is overdramatic banter. Who are they supposed to be? Tyler Perry makes it obvious that the two have a past, but he takes too long to reveal their history.
The only redeeming factor is the presence of Madea and the gang: Brown (David Mann), Cora (Tamela Mann) and Uncle Joe (Tyler Perry). Madea’s smart-mouth comedy combined with the silliness of the other three is like heaven compared to Josh and Candy’s pseudo-heavy plot.
Unfortunately, even Madea succumbs to the pitfalls caused by a bad story once she and Candy are in jail. They don’t actually go to jail until late in the movie because so much time is spent setting it up. Once there, that’s when the movie decides to rush through to its conclusion.
Tyler Perry’s movies are built around a central life lesson encased within a cheesy plot. The cheesiness can be overlooked and is funny in many cases. But the lesson of this film is overwhelmed by too much useless drama.
Near the end, Madea finally delivers the message, only to have its import diminished by a standard “hero” conclusion. The ending is so contrived viewers would be excused for thinking Perry pulled it randomly from a hat.
Though Madea is entertaining and provides much-needed comic relief, it can’t overshadow the fact that “Madea Goes to Jail” is a poorly written story that blatantly lacks balance between its competing narratives.
To read more of Kary’s movie reviews, go to kbowser.wordpress.com. Email Kary at email@example.com.