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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Madea's Big Happy Family

December 12th, 2010

Madea's Big Happy Family - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Tyler Perry's next movie is Madea's Big Happy Family and it hits theaters in April. Like nearly all of his movies, that one is based on a play, a play that started its run earlier in the year and came out on DVD and Blu-ray late last month. The screener arrived a little late, but I was finally able to get to it this week.

The Movie

This play is a little difficult to write a plot synopsis for, as nearly everything that happens is a major spoiler. The play starts with Shirley, a mother of five, waiting in her doctor's office with her Aunt Bam. Shirley had been sick with cancer in the past and it's back and worse than before and the doctor is giving her only a few weeks to live. She decides to get all of her children, and asks her doctor to be there to explain any questions her family might have. However, when her family gets together, they are more interested in fighting with each other, their spouses, their girlfriends, etc. than they are interested in what Shirley has to say. As the evening progresses, secrets are revealed, not even Madea can keep a handle on the situation, and the family leave before Shirley can give her announcement.

The night's not a total disaster, close, but not quite. A little later on, Shirley's very devoted, and even more single daughter, Joyce, gets a date with the doctor. But on the big night before they can go on their date, Shirley's health takes a turn for the worse.

And now were are entering unacceptable spoiler territory.

I think the easiest way to describe this play is by calling it a Tyler Perry play. It is a Tyler Perry play that stars Madea. That's pretty much all you need to know to judge whether or not this play will appeal to you. It has all of the aspects of a Tyler Perry play, including stylistic problems of blending the darker moments and the frequent slapstick humor. (Also, I fail to see the humor in watching Madea choke someone. Smacking someone upside the head I could get, because you are hitting them to get their attention and not to cause physical injury. But choking doesn't seem like a laughing matter.) Obviously there are a huge number of very devoted fans of his work that love to look in on the dysfunctional family drama / comedy he creates, but this is too similar to some of his past work for me.

Also, could someone explain to him that when a person has been arrested a certain number of times, they no longer have the moral ground to tell someone else to fly straight and get a job. I don't know what the limit is, but Madea has surpassed it. So watching her sit down and explain how this family should be living, is more than a little hard to take.

On the other hand, there are some excellent songs in the play, which is something we don't get in the movies.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD include a 17-minute featurette on the cast and a 4-minute featurette on the legend that is Tyler Perry.

I don't have the Blu-ray, so I can't compare features or judge the quality of the audio or video. The Blu-ray only costs $18.99 on, which is a good value for this type of release, but the DVD costs just $13.99, which appears to be the better deal.

The Verdict

Fans of Tyler Perry's plays don't need my opinion to know if they will enjoy Madea's Big Happy Family. For me it is too similar to his past works, while I've never been a real fan to begin with. Additionally, neither the DVD nor the Blu-ray have a lot of extras. On the other hand, if you are a fan of his work, it's good value for the money while you wait for the movie to come out.

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