Forgive me Father, for I have sinned: I am reviewing Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son on Blu-Ray without seeing either of the first two Big Momma movies. I realize that to some this may invalidate my opinion as a film critic, but to me it validates my existence as a human being. That my loins have never stirred at the thought of Martin Lawrence in drag is something I think most people would consider a positive quality, unless of course that’s your “thing.” I suppose if Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son caters to your (apparently highly specific) fetishes then more power to you. For the rest of us it’s a trite, boring and simply unfunny exercise in voyeurism that lacks any of the prurience that might at least have made it watchable… if a little pervy.
To reiterate, I have never seen Big Momma’s House 1 or 2, but that being said I have been unable to avoid them completely thanks to the phenomena of cultural osmosis. I have gathered that Martin Lawrence is an officer of the law who, for some reason that must have made perfectly good sense at the time, once had to go undercover by dressing in drag as an old woman. I’m certain he probably learned a valuable lesson at some point, but obviously he didn’t quite get the job done because he eventually had to do it again, for reasons that, once again, seemed entirely logical to his character given his circumstances.
By the third film, Lawrence has become so accustomed to living as a woman that when a problem presents itself, putting on a fat suit and a speaking as if his testicles have receded suddenly and without warning is an instinctual response. No sooner than his son, Tropic Thunder’s Brandon T. Jackson, witnesses a fatal shooting does Lawrence throw a dress on him and plop him in the middle of an all girls art academy. The movie wastes no time getting to this point, never stopping once to allow Lawrence to present Jackson with his proposal and hear reasoned arguments against it. Jackson has to go into hiding… BAM!!! Drag. What a drag indeed. I take it on faith that by the third film these kinds of debates have become old hat, but it’s still mighty arbitrary. Surely hiding him in a hotel room on the other side of the country would be a more prudent, less humiliating solution than hiding him in plain sight down the road from the killer’s home address, women’s underthings or no.
What follows is an uncomfortably candy-colored look at the secret lives of girls, as indeed all such movies must be. Movies in which men go undercover as women have certain inherent qualities: they must have the opportunity to enjoy seeing women in a state of undress (as indeed all women are, constantly, when men are not around), they must find women’s clothing to be uncomfortably illogical (as indeed much of it is), and of course they must fall in love with a woman whilst ruefully deceiving them, precluding any possibility of entering a lasting relationship built on trust, and then finally enter a lasting relationship with them at the end of the film anyway, because it’s the third act and nobody wants this crap to go on any longer. Big Mommas does all these things with the methodical precision of a marine assembling his rifle. One gets the impression that the film’s thin veneer of pleasance hides the frustration of an overtrained individual quietly going Section Eight.
In all fairness, Tootsie did this well. So did Some Like It Hot. But comparing Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son to Some Like It Hot would be like comparing filet mignon to a rotting cow carcass. Same principle, very different execution.
I’ve always thought of cross-dressing movies as a kind of male invisibility fantasy. They provide an entertaining outlet for the common daydream of watching how girls behave when us men aren’t around. The idea is to see what they’re truly like when they don’t feel as if they have to put on a persona to either attract men or defend themselves from unwanted advances. We see their darker side, interacting negatively with other women over matters alien, or at least slightly strange to those with 50% fewer X chromosomes. And yes, we get to see them naked, although usually in a non-sexual context (not that men acknowledge the existence of such a thing). Big Mommas provides no insight to either the audience or the characters beyond clichés like ‘Men Are Pigs’ and ‘That Girl’s A Bitch Or Possibly Misunderstood,’ and no illicit thrill beyond an astonishingly weird spontaneous dance number in the bathroom while giving a makeover. For all intents and purposes there’s nothing to see here. Moving along would be a wise plan.
Big Mommas waddles onto Blu-Ray with a colorful master and perfectly decent surround sound mix, but it’s a generic comedy with high-key lighting and only sporadic spurts of action to make the most of its presentation. There are also an array of extras including music videos, a gag reel, deleted scenes, featurettes and a commentary track. I dipped into them slightly but refrained from getting wet. The gag reel wasn’t funny and the commentary track was jovial but benign. But offering special features on a movie like Big Mommas is like providing the life story of your Baconator: nobody of consequence wants it, and denying the information to anybody who actually does could be considered a small but appreciable public service.
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son is available on Blu-Ray. I watched it so you don’t have to. Pray for me, my friends. Pray for my very soul.
Crave Online Review (Film): 2/10
Crave Online Review (Blu-Ray): 4.5/10