With Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, Martin Lawrence and director Martin Whitesell have kicked the year in bad studio-produced films off with a colossal bomb. This movie is so bad that you’ll be cowering in your seat while convulsively laughing at everything from its bad KFC jokes (“We was so poor we had to lick other people’s fingers”) to an impromptu musical number involving a rap duet (one of three!) that includes lyrics about a “super-sized badonkadonk.” It’s a true rubber-necker’s delight, a comedy so inconceivably tacky that it will make you question whether or not you’re laughing at the film or with it.
Allow me to assure you in no uncertain terms: This movie is improbably bad. If you see it, you will be mortified and cover your eyes at least once. Don’t panic: That’s just a defense mechanism to help you process the horror of watching Lawrence, dressed in his old-lady fat suit from the last two Big Momma films, try to keep nothing but a drape on while an art teacher insists he take off all his clothes for her life-model class. The fact that we’ve gotten to a third entry in this series at all proves how desperate the films’ producers are to earn a buck (the last two entries grossed $117 million and $70 million, respectively). Any way you slice it, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son deserves jeremiads declaring it as the latest in a long line of signs of the ever-looming cultural apocalypse. It is impossible to overstate this film’s terribleness.
The disconnect from reality that everyone involved in this film exhibited by agreeing to collaborate on it is staggering. Lawrence reprises his role as Malcolm, an undercover F.B.I. agent that’s earned his reputation as what a Russian mobster calls a “master of disguise” by donning a fat suit and curlers to catch crooks. After his son, Trent (Brandon T. Jackson), witnesses a murder, Malcolm has to go into hiding. But when duty calls on Malcolm to wrap up a dangerous case involving missing evidence stashed at an all-girl’s college, Trent, an aspiring rap artist who goes by the name Prodi-G, must help his dad by donning a fat suit and dressing in drag.
Trent becomes Charmaine, an aspiring student that immediately becomes the target of prima donna Jasmine (Portia Doubleday, an Amanda Seyfried-lite). Charmaine also quickly befriends Haley (Jessica Lucas), proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to hitting on women while undercover, dressing in drag and wearing a fat suit. Malcolm matches his son by donning his Big Momma disguise, snatching up a job as a house mother at the school, and teaching students the value of big, loud racial stereotypes, like when she uses Vaseline to smooth out a student’s uncontrollable curls. All the while, Chirkoff (Tony Curran)—yes, that’s right, there’s a character whose name is supposed to sound like “jerkoff” in the film—waits for his chance to strike at Malcolm and Trent, not realizing that the two are, as Trent puts it, “looking for a four-inch hard drive in three-inch heels.”
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son is almost never funny on purpose. The only time the film is actually preposterous enough to earn a laugh is when Kurtis Kool (who else but Faizon Love?), the horn-dog janitor that likes his women to be big, black, and transvestites (he later pouts about having unknowingly dated women with “ding-a-lings” before), boasts about having been an extra in Krush Groove. The rest of the movie is a monumentally wretched affair full of bad acting, offensively bad clichés, and oodles of lowest-common-denominator slapstick, like when Big Momma crashes through a table that she’s dancing on in the aforementioned impromptu musical number. A game of Twister between Kurtis and Big Momma is not even the film’s lowest lowlight.
Worst of all, first-time screenwriter Matthew Fogel tries to foist a ridiculous load of faux wisdom onto his audience by showing Trent, the biggest butt of the film’s jokes, learn that he needs to grow up. The juvenile activities of young people are generally the source of big yuks in Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, like the devastating breakup by text message received by Mia (Michelle Ang), a young actress that aspires to be like “Sandra Bullock, but before the Oscar.” Mia’s especially ditzy, as is evinced during a car chase where she, a student driver, nearly crashes head-on into a truck. This is all in service to the film’s ridiculous young-people-know-nothing-about-the-world-so-they-should-stay-in-school-until-they-do attitude, one that’s flimsily supported by sage wisdom from Haley, who insists that Jay-Z waited until he was 27 before dropping his first album—because he wanted to get it just right. The funniest part about this joke is its willful ignorance of the fact that Lawrence never attended college. Maybe in its own warped way, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son does have a point: If staying in school can save anyone from starring in dreck like this, institutionalized learning must be the only way.