It may come as a shock—though I doubt it—that I missed out on the first offering in the Big Momma’s House franchise. It’s one of those glaring blind spots (to put alongside my rather willful avoidance of The Passion of the Christ and Crash) that must someday, I suppose, be remedied. Criticism can be a notoriously picky profession; it really has to be for fear that a steady diet of self-same dreck, day-in and day-out, will drive you to the proverbial madhouse. So when I say that the funniest thing about Big Momma’s House 2 is what I believe to be a grammar error in its press notes, I think it betrays a rather facetious and sarcasm-laden bias on my part, even though I speak, most assuredly, from a place of total and genuine honesty. That particular press notes statement also happens to suffice as a plot descriptor, so I reprint it here in its entirety, italicized emphasis mine: “This time around, [F.B.I. Agent] Malcolm [Turner, played by Martin Lawrence], is out to expose the suspected designer of a deadly computer ‘worm’ that would allow outside forces access to sophistical and critical government intelligence files.” Now I say this is a potential grammar error because “sophistical” (which recalls, in this context, Will Ferrell’s Dubya Bushism “strategery”) is actually a word. Relating to the Sophist school of rhetorical argument, the term is defined as something “clever-sounding and plausible but based on shallow or dishonest thinking or flawed logic.” Could this be some kind of clandestine attack, by way of the film’s promoters, on those very pundits who would go out of their way to dismiss and crack jokes at the expense of this repulsively Mammy-fied Mrs. Doubtfire retread? Or is it exactly what it seems to be: an unfortunate descriptive error, most likely the result of poor proofreading efforts on the part of a bleary-eyed, overworked press agent? A mystery to ponder alongside the “Who sent the videotapes?” inquiry of Michael Haneke’s Caché. And infinitely more interesting to think about, I might add, than a single, solitary frame of Big Momma’s House 2.
- 20th Century Fox
- 104 min
- John Whitesell
- Don Rhymer
- Martin Lawrence, Nia Long, Emily Procter, Zachary Levi, Mark Moses, Dan Lauria
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