Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016) Review: The Horror.
Maybe once it was a good idea. Dress up like the matriarch of a black household, hire hard working black actors and actresses, and write stories that appeal to a group of people who’ve historically been under and misrepresented. On paper, everything Tyler Perry does is not only smart, but it’s also important. At it’s best, you have films like ‘Madea’s Family Reunion’, at it’s worst, you have this film.
Now I know this review is meaningless. Tyler Perry movies attract the type of loyalty that renders any critical analysis of them moot. They get people to see them no matter how bad it might actually be. Having understood that, I still need to say what this movie was to me. Induldge me, if you will.
For Boo, A Madea Halloween, Tyler Perry plays a man at the end of his rope. Unable to tame the feral beast that is his rebellious 17 year old daughter. Despite this, he refuses to lay a hand on her. When it seems she has intentions of sneaking out to a college party she has no business going to, he calls in the sternest hand he knows, his dear Aunt Mabel, otherwise known as, Madea.
The first act of the movie, leading up to Madea’s appearance, is palpably grating. How Tyler Perry can be so convincing in the role of Madea, but so tepid playing it straight is baffling. Every performance from anyone not covered in makeup makes the movie feel like a school project. Not to mention, there are scenes that go on forever, reiterating the same jokes and points, that feel like they were pulled directly from a stage show, but were neglected in any form of meaningful adaption for the silver screen, that would suit the format. Running on and on much like that last sentence.
I’m not going to pretend I didn’t laugh, I did. Not even at how mediocre it was, but genuinely I was made to laugh when I was supposed to. However those moments don’t outweigh the times when I honestly wanted to leave. Clearly this was not a subjective notion, judging by the long stretches of silences in the cinema, at scenes designed for big laughs.
At this point, the idea of Madea is more than played out. I’m gonna need something more than a barrage of jokes that go “HEY IT’S A DUDE IN A DRESS”. As much as I’d like that to be the case, there’s not a strong sense of a need to innovate in the writers room. Look no further than the scene where Madea exposes herself to a group of frat boys, who then recoil when they realise it’s not a halloween costume. Sure you could say that’s a fresh take on an old hat, but it’s an old ass hat.
The setting isn’t put to particularly inventive use either. There’s plenty of comedy that can come from exploring the stereotype of black people’s superstition. Lord knows every other movie making fun of the horror genre, has a joke about black people staying the hell away from a haunted house. Here, the best attempts at those ideas fall flat. Sometimes literally, with a slapstick punchline.
It’s not a movie that evokes anger, where I’d tell you you’re better off reading a book. Truth be told, it’s harmless enough to be put on in the background, laugh when you’re supposed to and ignore it when you’re not.
Rating: Catch It On Cable