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|July 25, 2000||
Much to be desired
If Dr Dolittle and Mrs Doubtfire shared a grandmother, she'd probably look a lot like Big Momma, the crass, outspoken, full-figured Southern granny.
It all begins when an undercover, tough-talking FBI agent, Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) is given the task of catching a murderous bank robber. Disguised as a cranky, colossal grandmother, Lawrence tries to glean information from the crook's ex-flame, Cherie (Nia Long) and her son, only to find himself falling for her.
The done-to-death comical capers in the film range from the trite to the tiresome. Weighed down in blubbery drag and pounds of Latex (it's not called BIG Momma for nothing!), Lawrence dances, cooks up a fire, shoots hoops, delivers a baby in mittens, takes over a self-defense class, makes a dramatic entrance through a glass window and looks occasionally stiff in the vast sea of make-up.
The film is really just an extended one-joke skit for Lawrence (of Blue Streak fame) to exercise his comedic histrionics. Interestingly, before Big Momma's House got rolling, Lawrence collapsed from heat stroke and went into a coma after exercising in heavy clothing. So cooling vents were built into the suit itself. Although such additions and alterations don't hinder the film's realism, most of his cross-dressing gags elicit only strained laughter.
Lawrence pales in the cross-dressing department in comparison to stalwarts like Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie (1982) that was directed by Sydney Pollack and the legendary comedy, Some Like It Hot (1959) by Wilder and I A L Diamond starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. Also earning a mention for their efforts at cross-dressing are Robin Williams in Chris Columbus's Mrs Doubtfire (1993) and Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane in the comedy, Nuns On the Run.
If Raja Gosnell (who also directed the high school comedy Never Been Kissed) had been more comedy conscious, this film could have been more than a floundering collection of antics. Instead of concentrating on creating an unabashedly funny comedy, he crams together a chaotic melange of romance and police action, wrapped up in fluffy messages. Once the novelty of Lawrence's oversized makeover wears off, there's not much to look forward to. Big Momma's House could definitely do with some repair work!
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