Tyler Perry’s iconic character returns to the screen for one last hurrah in A Madea Family Funeral from Lionsgate. In a massive undertaking for any director, A Madea Family Funeral has Tyler Perry not only directing and writing the film, but portraying four of the roles in the movie. The simplistic plot of A Madea Family Funeral centers on the pending 40th wedding anniversary of Vianne (Jen Harper) and Anthony (Derek Morgan).
The couple’s children Silvia (Ciera Payton), Jessie (Rome Flynn), and AJ (Courtney Burrell), are in charge of planning the event. In typical Perry fashion, members of the family all have secrets to set the plot in motion. Turns out, Anthony isn’t a faithful husband, as he’s having an affair with Renne (Quin Walter), his wife’s best friend. His oldest son AJ, is also engaging in an extramarital relationship with Gia (Aerial Miranda), who happens to be his brother’s fiancée.
A plot twist that is supposed to be played for laughs, sets off the secondary Madea centered story-line. When Anthony meets his maker in the middle of a sex act with Renne, Madea (Tyler Perry), and her crew, Hattie (Patrice Lovely), Aunt Bam (Cassie Davis), Joe, and Brian (both also played by Perry) head down south for the funeral.
Tyler Perry is a bit of an enigma when it comes to film-making. In hindsight, the film connoisseur in me doesn’t actually like his unorthodox filmmaking techniques. On the other hand, as a person of color, I love that Perry makes a commitment to give minority actors work. That being said, I knew what to expect with A Madea Family Funeral. I wasn’t familiar with any of the newer actors that Perry used in the film however. I guess if there was a lead in the movie, it would belong to Courtney Burrell’s character of AJ. His role is the only one with any kind of arc, even though it’s never fully resolved. The rest of the unknowns do what they can with the material they are given.
The rest of the acting in A Madea Family Funeral is textbook Perry, which is fine. Playing the characters of dirty old man Joe, straight man Brian and the sassy Madea, Tyler Perry doesn’t bring anything new to the roles. My ten-year-old son was able to predict some of the punchlines that the Perry portrayed characters would say. The better punchlines come from the rest of the supporting cast in the Madea crew, in particular, Hattie (Patrice Lovely) and Aunt Bam (Cassie Davis) who are a bit more enjoyable.
As much I usually give Perry a pass when it comes to his films, playing it safe just didn’t work for A Madea Family Funeral. Jokes that include dying during sex, minorities’ fear of being pulled over by a white police officer, and black funeral traditions either fall flat or only elicit a brief chuckle. Alternatively, the drama centered on the offspring of Vianne (Jen Harper) and Anthony (Derek Morgan) only drags the film down. The better choice would’ve been to focus on the funeral, and not focus on all of the family secrets
When it comes to Tyler Perry’s movies, my personal motto is, you either like his work or you don’t. In the past, I have been overly critical of Perry’s work. However, around his eleventh film, I came to the realization that Perry is never going to change his style, as he is catering to his core fan base. In his fifteen-year film career, Tyler Perry has directed twenty films, with Madea serving as a character in eleven of them. Perry has noted in several interviews that A Madea Family Funeral is the last time that Madea would grace the silver screen. I had hopes that Madea would go out with a bang and not a safe whimper that will serve as her final outing.
Final Grade D+