Boo! A Madea Halloween Review
NOT ANOTHER MADEA MOVIE!
Tough, crass, and always has something to say, Mabel “Madea” Simmons is a fictional character that was created by actor/ writer / director (yeah that’s quite an impressive list) Tyler Perry. This elderly African-American character has been fan-favorite of Perry’s works, debuting her in his recorded stage play I Can Do Bad All by Myself and following-up in other recorded plays soon after. In 2005, Perry decided to make the jump from the theatre stage to feature film as Madea appeared in his movie Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which was also a recorded stage play back in 2001. With popularity growing with the character, Perry produced more films starring Madea (sometimes she was the focal point, others a side character). This includes, the film adaption of I Can Do Bad All by Myself, Madea Goes to Jail, Madea’s Family Reunion, Madea’s Witness Protection, and A Madea Christmas. Now, after stepping away from silver screen for several years, the character of Madea returns in Tyler Perry’s newest film titled Boo! A Made Halloween. Does Madea’s latest cinematic comedy bring the laughs or should Perry let go of the infamous Mabel Simmons?
It’s Halloween and Brian Simmons (Tyler Perry) is at his wits with his 17-year-old daughter Tiffany (Diamond White), who refuses to respect as a parental figure, testing the limits as she and her friends flirtatiously past by Upsilon Theta Fraternity, attracting the hormone attention from young college men. As Brian forbids Tiffany from attending the frat’s annual Halloween celebration (with all the standard frat angst of drinking, partying, and sex), Tiffany plans to go any, pushing her father to a breaking point. Reaching out to Mabel “Madea” Simmons (Tyler Perry) to stand watch overnight while he tends to his business work elsewhere. Joined by Joe Simmons (Tyler Perry), Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis), and their friend Hattie (Patrice Lovely), Madea settles in for a friendly evening of family arguments as watches over Brian’s house. However, Tiffany has plans of her own, scheming up scares tactics for Madea and company into submission with poltergeist pranks, while she sneaks off to the party. Eventually, Madea figures out Tiffany’s ploy and prepares to retrieve her niece from the part, but is quickly challenged by the frat brothers, who, in turn, turn the tables on Madea and her friends.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
I wasn’t actually going to go see Boo! A Madea Halloween as it didn’t interest me as much. In truth, I didn’t even see the movie trailer for it in theaters, I happen to see a TV spot for it and then went to the internet to see the full trailer. Still, the movie just didn’t grab me. I’ve seeing several other Madea movies and I thought they were just okay. However, I had some free time one night and it was “discount” day at my local theater (ticket prices are like $6.21 all day long), so I decided to take a chance go see the Boo!. What did I think of it? Well, while it had some humorous bit, Boo! A Madea Halloween is a cliché of other Madea movies out there, with the abrasive character spending Halloween night in the same old routine in an uninspiring feature.
Like a lot (if not most) of his movies, Tyler Perry pulls triple-duty in Boo! A Madea Halloween, with him directing, writing, and acting in this movie. To his effect, Perry knows what his target audience wants and gives them that ample room for the character of Madea and his friends plenty to spout obscene jokes and raunchy sayings throughout the picture. This may not be the main focal point in all of Perry’s movies (where she is featured), but is always a highlight and Boo! gives us that, spending time for her to explain her views on parenting, pop culture, and other various topics. Some of her character’s comedy are almost like SNL skits in which a scene last for a long duration with her and several characters are allowed for comical banter. However, the film runs the gambit for this way too long in certain areas of Boo! and takes up too much of the movie (more on that below). Additionally, like a lot of other Perry movies, Boo! offers a moral lesson to the story, with the feature portraying the strenuous task of a father and disrespectful teenage daughter. It’s not as “hard-hitting” as some of his other message and themes in his other films, but, given that Boo! is a lighter, it’s more appropriate. As a side-note, in terms of filmmaking, Boo! is standard in production quality, editing, etc. Nothing really to rave about, but nothing to be upset about.
The main problem with the movie is redundancy, with Boo! A Madea Halloween being the eighth film in the Madea series. The character has been played out time and time again in the Perry’s movies and has become a stale fictional character, producing the same old jokes and slapstick gags in each feature. Boo! doesn’t deter from Perry’s formulaic path for the character of Madea, seeking the tall and bulky female character speaking her mind on various topics and scenarios. While Madea was a complete and utter “hoot” in the first few entries, the character has overstayed her welcome, almost to the point of being a parody spoof. Perry just needs to let Madea go.
In conjunction with that, this current Madea movie falls prey to familiarity with Perry’s other endeavors. Again, it’s just the same old Tyler Perry movie, with no originality put into it. I know, at this point, people who to go and watch a Madea aren’t looking for something completely revolutionary or compelling, but even you if at the film as just an entertainment value, it’s definitely lacking substance. The narrative plot of the film is also weak, stretching out a thinly-conceived storyline (a story that seems more in-line with a half-hour TV drama on ABC Family) into a feature film, with a runtime of an hour and forty-three minutes. It literally takes the film about forty-five minutes to get to the main plot of the story, with the first act being just the initial setup and elongated banter sequences. As for the comedy itself, its a mix of sorts. Some are funny and hit their intended target, while others are DOA. Coinciding with that is the film’s tone, which is all over the map. Being a comedy, the film spends a lot of time projecting its’ comedy routine, but also wants to play around with the idea of horror-ish elements (nothing to scary and somewhat generic, but still horror-style scenarios) and also wants have a moral guiding message that basically gets attached at the film’s end.
Additionally, the movie doesn’t rely to heavily on seasonal event of Halloween, the using the “trick or treat” styles in one scene (opening with Madea and Aunt Bam) and a couple of other scenes involving the frat’s “Halloween” bash. This, of course, renders the Halloween theme a bit moot in the movie as the film’s events could take place at anytime (i.e. “Madea in a Haunted House” could be a title or “Madea in Horror” movie) All of these collide in Boo! and doesn’t work quite well. In short, Madea has become a parody of sort, spewing out films every now and again, with the same clichéd storytelling arc, comedy shticks, and poorly written characters. Basically, Madea is the new Ernest P. Worrell from the Ernest movies. Probably Perry will make a new Madea movie called “Madea Goes to Camp”.
The cast in Boo! A Madea Halloween isn’t going to be recognized by the film critics and organization at this upcoming award season, but, for what it’s worth, they do bring a sort of levity to this comedy. Of course, leading that charge is Tyler Perry himself playing not one, not two, but three different characters in the movie, with the best being Madea. Whether you like these films or not, Perry’s Madea is probably the best thing about the movie. Yes, the character might be tiresome and in need of some new / fresh material, but Perry definitely knows what people want from Madea. Like I said above, some of her jokes hit their target, while others don’t. Again, comedy is subjective, but it’s kind of interesting to what Madea is going to say in her current situation. Likewise, the same with Perry’s other character of Joe Simmons, who does in a similar persona of Madea (an old timer who speaks his mind freely and openly), but dialed back a few from the Madea herself. Both characters, while nothing groundbreaking, are enjoyable. The last role Perry plays is the character of Mike Simmons, who is the more straight-man figure in the movie, and, while nothing completely memorable, does a decent job in that capacity. The other two adult stars in the movie, the two being Cassi Davis’s Aunt Bam and Patrice Lovely’s Hattie, are thinly sketched characters, who really don’t have much to offer in the movie, but are at least memorable due to their quirky / odd personas.
With the most of the older cast good a fair job in their roles, the younger cast members in the movie are a mix bag, ranging from mediocre to almost cringe-worthy. Diamond White’s Tiffany is a prime example of that. She’s definitely pretty (I will not deny that) and plays a part of the film’s message, but her character is so annoying and “ugh”! I know White (and Perry) are trying to portray her as a rebellious teen, but it just comes off as a tedious and deplorable persona. It also doesn’t help that White’s acting is bad, whether that’s due to the poorly written script or just her overall acting ability. Former Disney Channel star Bella Thorne and Lexy Panterra are little more than window dressing for the movie, sparsely in certain scenes here and there as Tiffany’s friends Rain Mathison and Leah Devereaux (basically completely unmemorable). Liza Koshy is probably the best of the four young female characters as Tiffany’s other friend Aday Walker. Nothing grand in actin or character development, but it’s a decent effort (in a favorable light) on her part and in the movie. The rest of the young cast consists of the frat boy characters of Upsilon Theta, which are completely deplorable and clichéd. Internet YouTube sensation Yousef Erakat is probably the absolutely worst in the entire feature as the frat boy Johnny as he is so goofy, stupid, and basically cannot act. The rest of the frat brothers are not as bad as Erakat, but still clichéd and totally forgettable.
The crazy angst of Madea and company return for a Halloween themed feature in Boo! A Madea Halloween. Tyler Perry’s newest iteration of his infamous character finds herself in another pickle of fending off frat brothers, a mischievous 17-year-old, and her slapstick nuances of comedy jokes and gags. However, the freshness of the movie is stale, offering up the same old shtick from Perry’s past endeavors, with a thinly-sketched narrative, over-extended bantering quips that go nowhere, flat caricature characters, and some bad acting. Personally, I didn’t expect much from this movie as it had a couple of laughs to be had, but it just was bland and derivate from the other Madea movies. Some will like it, most will not, but, as for my recommendations, I would say its an iffy choice (to those who like the Madea movies) and a skip for everyone else. All in all, Boo! A Madea Halloween is a cartoony affair that lacks substance (in storytelling, comedy, and heart) and hardly delivers the necessary tricks (or treats) fanfare for its Halloween premise.
2.4 Out of 5 (Iffy-Choice / Skip It)
Released On: October 21st, 2016
Reviewed On: October 31st, 2016
Boo! A Madea Halloween is rated PG-13 for drug use and references, suggestive content, language, some horror images and thematic material