More than five years after “Big Momma’s House” — which was basically “Kindergarten Cop” in drag — Martin Lawrence goes the Uncle Miltie route again in this wholly uninspired sequel, which plays more like “Mrs. Doubtfire 2.” Donning the fat suit and wig, Lawrence’s FBI agent becomes the nanny to a trio of kids, while engaging in the most rudimentary of revenge plots. Probably review-proof for openers, movie is so episodic and flat it should be a letdown even to those amused by the original.
Painfully unfunny slapstick takes precedence over would-be satire. Moviegoers embraced a super-size momma in a wig and a governess who tames an unruly brood as family-friendly films dominated the weekend box office.
The film, which sees Martin Lawrence as an FBI agent go undercover as a nanny, took $28m (£15.8m) in its opening week. Last week’s number one, Underworld: Evolution, starring Kate Beckinsale as a vampire warrior, slipped two places to number three with $11.1 million in sales, a 59 percent decline from its strong first week. The fourth spot was claimed by new release “Annapolis,” one of three Disney films in the top 10.
It was the second-biggest January opening since a special edition Star Wars release in 1997.
The first Big Momma’s House cooked up $25.7 million at 2,802 theaters on its opening weekend five and a half years ago, which would equal around $31 million today, adjusted for ticket price inflation. It went on to gross $117.6 million (or around $140 million adjusted).
Turning back to the movie given that his energy has to carry the action, Lawrence actually seems kind of bored except when Big Momma gets to cut loose on the dance floor to teach one of the moppets to be a cheerleader. As for the rest of the cast, it’s hard to avoid thinking that a lot of talented TV regulars picked up checks during their hiatus periods, and little else.
As constructed by Whitesell and writer Don Rhymer (who shared credit on the earlier movie), the tone also oscillates between overly broad and cloying, as George S. Clinton’s musical cues work overtime signaling the shifts.
The movie even lacks any of the big bathroom gags that provided guilty laughs the first time around. The only funny bits, rather, involve the Fullers’ 3-year-old son constantly leaping off things (to splat on the ground below) and the depressed family Chihuahua watching telenovelas.
No one confuses comedy sequels with “Masterpiece Theater,” but “Big Momma’s” exhibits such a minimal effort made to justify a reprise that the assumption appears to be that cloaking Lawrence in Greg Cannom’s suit will alone be ample incentive for audiences to flock back.
The producers maintain in the press notes that ensuring the sequel measured up to its predecessor prompted the five-year delay. According to that standard, “Big Momma 3″ could be made at any time — but there’s no need to rush.
As of this moment Big Momma’s House 2 has a pathetic 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But come on folks… is anyone really surprised at all? Not me.
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