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Review: Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas


Eileen won’t take no for an answer when her daughter Lacey cancels their Christmas plans, so along with her friend Madea, she travels to Alabama for a proper family Christmas. Lacey has her reasons for cancelling though; without her mother’s knowledge, she has married Conner, a white man. When Eileen and Madea arrive at Lacey’s farm, Lacey tells her mother that her husband is a “farm hand”. Things become even more complicated when Connor’s parents show up for the holidays.

Tyler Perry is back in the fat suit and wig as Madea, with Anna Maria Horsford as her friend Eileen. Tika Sumpter plays Eileen’s daughter Lacey, with her husband being played by Eric Lively. Larry the Cable Guy and Kathy Najimy appear as Connor’s parents. Alicia Witt and Chad Michael Murray also star as a working class couple who feud with Lacey and Conner.

Let’s get one thing straight, many people who see Perry’s films have preconceived notions about them before the even buying their tickets, and while most of Perry’s films are very similar, this one is a little different.

With his past couple films, Perry creates what is essentially an unheard of, unseen filmmaking technique; a sort of Black New Wave if you will. Like this year’s Best Man Holiday, A Madea Christmas disregards plot structure, continuity, political correctness, and character development.

In his latest film, Tyler Perry has finally found a match for his loud-mouthed Madea in Larry the Cable Guy. Past Madea films have tried to pair up the matriarch against others, but until now they have failed to get it right. The rest of the cast doesn’t deserve as much praise though. While Horsford, Sumpter, and Najimy are fine, other members of the cast really struggle. Surprisingly, the poor performances in the film come from Chad Michael Murray and Alicia Witt. Now that Murray’s TV show One Tree Hill is over, he really isn’t getting many roles. Other than a small part in Fruitvale Station, this is all Murray is offering us this year, and it isn’t good. His attempt at a southern accent is atrocious and completely unbelievable, the same can be said about Witt.

If they gave out Razzies for film editing, A Madea Christmas would be a sure lock. Characters seem to jump from place to place each time the shot changes. To make it even better, instead of the industry standard fades and cuts to transition between scenes, Perry has Christmas items wipe across the screen accompanied by sparkles and the sound of jingle bells. It’s pure gold.

Perry finally seems to realize that his films are messy and ridiculous, and has finally decided to embrace this. Therefore, A Madea Christmas may be one of his most extreme films yet. Whether it’s an incredibly offensive scene where Madea bullies a woman because of her weight, or a scene copied shot for shot from Crash in which a racist black woman must save a white man from a burning car, Perry knows how to shock an audience.

While one would assume that all these issues would make A Madea Christmas a terrible film, it just doesn’t feel that way. I’m certain that no one could watch this film and not enjoy themselves. A Madea Christmas is a rare film that is improved by its shortcomings.

[star v=35]

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.