Big Momma's House

on June 02, 2000 by Michael Tunison
Martin Lawrence's man-of-1,000-faces hero may be able to instantly transform himself into a corpulent old lady with some latex and a few pillows, but all the padding in the world can't disguise what "Big Momma's House" is--the uninspired execution of a one-joke idea. This concealed-identity comedy is routine studio filler all the way, and one of the weakest efforts to date for funnyman Lawrence ("Blue Streak").

When a murderous bank robber ("The Best Man's" Terrence Howard) busts out of jail, Lawrence's FBI agent Malcolm Turner and his more reserved comic-foil partner ("Man on the Moon's" Paul Giamatti) are assigned to keep an eye on the escapee's former girlfriend and suspected collaborator, Sherry (Nia Long from "Soul Food"). To gain the latter's confidence, Malcolm pulls out his handy disguise kit, whips up a preposterously lifelike mask and bodysuit, and passes himself off as Sherry's long-estranged grandmother, the titular Big Momma (who is conveniently called out of town for a couple of weeks just after the agents arrive). Cue one gag after another based on the fact that no one in Big Momma's small Georgia town realizes she's been replaced by a virile young man.

As directed by Raja Gosnell (also responsible for the grating "Never Been Kissed" and "Home Alone 3"), Darryl Quarles and Don Rhymer's formulaic script is most amusing when the hook is pushed to the extreme, such as when the fake Big Momma kicks butt in a women's self-defense class or hangs on the rim after stuffing a basketball in a street pick-up game. Unfortunately, most of the material is far tamer, and not even the talented Lawrence can make it very funny. Without even enough standout bits to cobble into a decent trailer, "Momma" is something less than big in the laughs department. Starring Martin Lawrence, Nia Long, Paul Giamatti and Terrence Howard. Directed by Raja Gosnell. Written by Darryl Quarles and Don Rhymer. Produced by David T. Friendly and Michael Green. A Fox release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for crude humor including sexual innuendo, and for language and some violence. Running time: 99 min

Tags: Starring Martin Lawrence, Nia Long, Paul Giamatti and Terrence Howard. Directed by Raja Gosnell. Written by Darryl Quarles, Don Rhymer. Produced by David T. Friendly, Michael Green, Fox, Comedy

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