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"A MADEA CHRISTMAS"
(2013) (Tyler Perry, Tika Sumpter) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A straight-talking grandma is coaxed into helping her adult niece make a surprise visit to that woman's daughter for Christmas, unaware of the surprises that they'll soon confront in her small town.
PLOT:
Mabel "Madea" Simmons (TYLER PERRY) is a highly opinionated, outspoken and politically incorrect woman who's taken a job as a holiday greeter at an Atlanta department store where her niece, Eileen (ANNA MARIA HORSFORD), works. Madea is horrible at the job, but Eileen is distracted by the fact that she hasn't seen her young adult daughter, Lacey (TIKA SUMPTER), in nine months since she moved to the small town of Bucktussle, Alabama to take a teaching job.

What Lacey hasn't told her mom is that she's married after eloping with local guy Connor (ERIC LIVELY) who she met while off at school. That becomes a sticking point when Eileen decides to make a surprise visit to see her at Christmas. With Madea in tow, they catch a ride with Oliver (JR LEMON), Lacey's former high school boyfriend who's gone off and made a success of himself in the corporate world. He happens to be traveling to Bucktussle as a favor to Lacey who knew he could nab a corporate sponsorship to not only help fund her school, but also the town's Christmas jubilee.

The latter has been up in the air ever since a dam was built upstream from Bucktussle and thus ruined the lives of many a farmer, including Connor's childhood nemesis, Tanner (CHAD MICHAEL MURRAY). He's married to Amber (ALICIA WITT) and they have a brilliant kid in young Bailey (NOAH URREA), but that's overshadowed by other students bullying him at school, something Lacey is trying to stop.

But her bigger concern at the moment is with her mom who thinks Connor is just a farmhand, and that his parents, Buddy (LARRY THE CABLE GUY) and Kim (KATHY NAJIMY), are unwelcome intruders in her daughter's home. As Christmas approaches, it's only a matter of time before everything comes to a head.

OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics (or are done so late the night before they open) is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

At one point somewhat late in "A Madea Christmas," the town mayor is facing a problem in that their corporate sponsor has proclaimed there will be no nativity or mention of Jesus during their Christmas jubilee. All of which causes him to state, "This is awful."

That was my exact sentiment, not necessarily about that out of the blue plot development, but the overall film in general. Filled with lame attempts at humor, quite bad melodrama in the few "serious" moments, some acting that's the equivalent of nails down the black board, and yet another heaping offering of Tyler Perry in drag doing his alter-ego thing, this is one to skip.

Marking the eighth time Perry has played this character (the films in which "she" has a major part are the writer/director/producer/star's biggest hits), this one's lame even by the already bar is set quite low standards established by its predecessors.

While fans of Madea might enjoy the usual array of mispronouncing words and phrases, and bits such as butchering the nativity story, even the character seems bored this time around, and never really fully takes the bait -- at least in terms of generating outrageous laughs -- regarding the KKK, other racism, bullying and such. I say Bah humbug to this awful flick. "A Madea Christmas" rates as a 1 out of 10.




Reviewed December 12, 2013 / Posted December 13, 2013


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