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Big Momma’s House 2: Most depressing comedy ever

by Glen Baity

I’m going to hazard a guess here: there isn’t a single moviegoer in America who is on the fence about Big Momma’s House 2.

I like to delude myself that every once in a while that a reader will be swayed by my opinion, take the plunge, and hit the theatre largely based on my recommendation (approximately one person has told me that this did, in fact, happen, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility). I think I can safely assume, however, that nobody in Greensboro is waiting for Baity’s verdict on the latest Martin Lawrence vehicle to decide if it’s going to be any good. Watch the preview, folks ‘— you’re either thrilled at the prospect of spending 90 more minutes of your life watching Lawrence’s zzzzzany hijinks in a rubber fat suit, or you had a reaction something like mine: ‘Martin Lawrence is still alive?’

Yes he is. And what’s more, people in Hollywood still return his calls. This was all news to me as, for my money, Martin Lawrence might have the least amount of detectable talent of any comedian past, present, or future, anywhere on the planet. A week ago, that might’ve seemed like hyperbole, but director John Whitesell, who previously brought you See Spot Run and Malibu’s Most Wanted (you’re welcome, America) has supplied me with a damning piece of evidence in the form of Big Momma’s House 2.

Full disclosure: I recall a time in my life when I actually thought Martin Lawrence was funny. I was in 7th grade, and the sitcom ‘“Martin’” was still in its early seasons. My friend Jeremy did a killer Sheneneh impression, and for a few weeks, every time he said ‘“Sheneneh fight you right here right now!’” we’d double over laughing. It didn’t take very long for my 12-year-old mind to figure out that Martin’s jokes about Oprah’s weight and Prince’s sexuality, irrespective of the fact that they were tasteless and not particularly funny, were just lazy. That’s the whole of Martin Lawrence’s career, in a nutshell: lazy, boring, incredibly obvious jokes that make Larry the Cable Guy look like the second coming of Lenny Bruce.

I missed out on the original Big Momma’s House, so I have to concede the possibility, however remote, that there was a sophisticated context for the lame-ass jokes in the sequel, and it was simply lost on me. Despite my disadvantage in not knowing the back story, I did find I was perfectly able to follow the plot of this one (in case you were concerned).

Lawrence plays FBI Agent Malcolm Turner, who infiltrates the home of millionaire software developer Tom Fuller (Mark Moses). The feds suspect Fuller of designing a computer virus aimed at weakening the security system of every major US intelligence agency. High stakes, right? It makes perfect sense that the only person who can Save the World is Malcolm, and the only way Malcolm can do this is by donning the fat suit a second time, posing as a nanny, and cozying up to the Fuller clan. I know what you’re thinking: will Big Momma teach the three neglected Fuller children a lesson about life, love and togetherness? Will the bad guys take over the world? Will Big Momma show a few rich white people how to dance?

Come now ‘— with so many surprises in store, would you really expect me to give it all away?

Not that it really matters, but Big Momma’s House 2 is just another film designed around a dull, tired premise: fat people are funny, and fat people falling down? Gold, people. Comic gold. Just throw in a dash of Tootsie, sprinkle liberally with Mrs. Doubtfire, and dinner is served. The people who liked the first film will see this one, the people who like this one will probably turn out for the inevitable third (Lawrence stares directly into the camera at the end of the film and basically confirms that Big Momma will show up a third time, and hell, why not? She’s practically a superhero at this point). And if that’s you, by all means go, laugh, enjoy. Life is short.

But personally, everything about this kind of comedy sends me spiraling into a deep, dark depression. It’s not just that it isn’t funny ‘— Big Momma’s House 2 is derivative of so many other movies that weren’t even funny in their time, the fact that anyone would bother reanimating their corpses is stupefying enough. But I get the sinking feeling that in ten years, a film will come along that’s a rip-off of this rip-off, starring some other also-ran hack comic who will cite Martin Lawrence as his primary influence. I don’t know about you, but I think about that, and I just get a little sad. That’s all.

Glen Baity really needs to lighten up, doesn’t he? Remind him that it’s just a movie when you e-mail him at egothelivingplanet@excite.com.

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