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MADEA GOES TO JAIL, 2008
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MADEA GOES TO JAIL
Movie Review
Directed by Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry, Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Vanessa Ferlito
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

Mischievous grandma Madea lands in jail, where she meets a variety of mixed-up characters. (but there is an hour to watch before that happens!)

REVIEW:

Tyler Perry and I have the same astrological chart, if that even means anything to most people. I like to think I get this guy and understand what makes him tick.

Perry has been on a role for the last few years and isn't about to stop the momentum he's on. I remember getting the chance to direct 10 short films in a span of 18 months, which I did, but I had to sacrifice a lot by doing it. Mainly my outside world and friends/family, but also creatively too. When you spread yourself thin, things don't get done as well as they should because you are sacrificing quality for quantity.

And that's what I feel Tyler Perry is doing as he's practically the assembly line of Hollywood. I mean in the past 3 years alone the guy has directed, produced, written and starred in 5 major motion pictures and over 90 TV episodes from two shows he created. No man has ever done as much in such a short time. And what makes it even more amazing is that everything he does makes its money back and then some. It seems like there are 4 Tyler Perry's and he's cloned himself.

But then again after watching Madea Goes to Jail, perhaps not. The film isn't that bad but it's really not that good either. And the sad part about it is that it could of been really good if the guy just brought on some other key collaborators. Mainly a director who understands how to give a film some overall thematic tone. But also a co-writer because some of his writing is just too on the nose it makes some of his actors look like they are doing a bad job.

Derek Luke basically plays the lead role in Madae Goes to Jail and really doesn't execute what he's suppose to pull off in any of the scenes he's in. Even the major moment his character has when he pours out his regrets on park bench just doesn't work. But I just saw him a month ago in Notorious playing Sean Combs and doing a great job. So it's perhaps not him that's making him look bad, but the direction and overall script he's working him.

And Madae doesn't go to jail until an hour into the film and is barely in the film at all. Only when Madae does go to jail is when this film actually starts getting good but we've waited just too long.

As in his other films, Perry mixes genres in two story-lines that eventually connect. The main storyline in very dramatic and usually deals with a black character trying to get out of the rough spot they are in. This is really a social commentary on the state of African Americans and how they need to push ahead of the racism and unfairness around them. And their antagonists are always either Aunt Jemima's or Uncle Tom's -- black people who accept and ignore the racism around them and pretend they are bad versions of white people.

The other storyline always is the comedic portion of the film. And always the better portion. In Madae Goes to Jail there are some laugh out loud and priceless moments whenever Madae is in the scene. The scene that will be probably talked about the most is when she goes to anger management therapy and Dr. Phil is her therapist. You can tell that this scene was improvised and they just put a camera on each of them. It's a very funny scene, so good they replayed a re-edited version during the closing credits of the film.

But why can't we just get the comedy portion and forget this whole shady Assistant DA who's about to marry our lead but isn't nearly as good for him as the girl (Keshia Knight Pulliam -- youngest daughter from The Cosby Show) he's trying to save from the streets storyline. No offense to Tyler Perry as I respect the hell out of him, but this storyline is as lame as lame comes.

Keshia Knight Pulliam is the Hooker who's just too good and smart to be one. Her friend gives her a cliche ridden speech -- "You're different than the rest of us. You're smart. You read books." -- that's just too much for someone to take.

I understand what's he's doing as his themes are really resident to our world. He's basically giving an Obama like speech in all of his movies telling people to stop blaming others for their problems no matter how bads things were/are and to be accountable for their actions and stand up tall. But the writing and directorial execution needs a lot of work.

Tyler Perry is great at comedy but is still learning in the art of pulling off dramatic tone.

Good luck to him though. I'm sure he's got another 6 movies and 56 TV episodes coming out in the next two years.

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