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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Big Momma's House 2

Usually when I hear “Big Momma’s in the house” it means I’ve arrived for my weekly pilgrimage to the Essex Outlet Cinemas to see what’s new on the movie scene. I never expected I’d be sharing that title with comedian Martin Lawrence (well, not again anyway) but here he is on the marquee in Big Momma’s House 2, six years after he first played Hattie Mae Pierce in the original.

I asked my usual gang of young’uns behind the counter if they had seen Big Momma’s House and they looked at me blankly. Then I realized it had been rated PG-13 and none of them were old enough to have seen it when it first came out, leading me to drown my Big Momma sorrows in a gigantic Diet Pepsi and Hefty Bag sized popcorn and sulk my way in to the theater to see what Hattie Mae has been up to since her, er, his last bust.

In the years since Malcolm Turner first donned his female fat suit, dress, and disastrous Dynel wig he has married his beloved Sherrie (Nia Long) and they, along with her son Trent (Jascha Washington), are awaiting the birth of a new baby. Things seem suburban-perfect until Malcolm learns that his first partner has been murdered while undercover. Malcolm’s FBI bosses remind him that it was his choice to retire from the field once he married and he should be happy in his desk job, but for Malcolm this is personal. And so in short time Malcolm has gone deep, deep undercover to find out why his partner was killed. To do this, Malcolm has to infiltrate the home of Tom Fuller (Desperate Housewives’ Mark Moses), a computer software genius who it seems is in the midst of endangering national security by creating a computer worm that will allow its’ possessor to unleash it on whatever national security systems he or she so desires. To find out what is going on, Malcolm gets his size 12s in the door as the Fuller children’s nanny, a position he unwittingly gains by botching the “official” undercover investigation’s plant. Soon Big Momma is not only spying on Tom Fuller while caring for his children, s/he is also nursing Tom’s neurotic and barely present wife Leah (played frighteningly too well by Emily Procter) when s/he is not being stalking by the FBI who want to recruit her as an inside contact since they do not recognize Big Momma as one of their one agents.

In the midst of all this Malcolm is juggling and struggling to maintain a semblance of normalcy in the Fuller household while bringing up three of the most disparate children ever. Fifteen year old Molly (Kat Dennings) has gone Goth and installed locks on her doors, preferring to live a funereal hermit’s life when not chasing after her nineteen year old boyfriend. Nine year old Carrie (Chloe Moretz) seems wired on speed AND caffeine in her bid to become the perfect Stepford cheerleader as a way of getting her father to notice her, and two year old Andrew (sadly uncredited anywhere I can find) doesn’t talk, but does enjoy doing belly flops from high places onto the hard floors, but only when his mother isn’t insisting that he attend tutoring sessions two hours a day to ensure that he gets into Harvard. It makes you wonder if he’s just not trying to commit suicide to escape this madness.

Most of the film really doesn’t concern itself too much with a plot, though there is one. More important are the comedic pieces that allow Lawrence to prance around as Big Momma and (pardon the pun) throw “her” weight around. S/he startles Molly’s boyfriend with her willingness to be a bit less than ladylike in where she places a well-aimed kick, she gives Carrie and her dance class some gyrating moves that would make Beyonce blush, and dazzles Dad when he finds her packing heat. Most of the laughs rely on Lawrence making much ado about Big Momma’s big everything, and the high (or low) point of the movie involves a take-off on the old Bo Derek movie 10, this time with Big Momma in the yellow one-piece and blonde braids jaunting down the beach in slow-motion. I’m sure a lot of people of size will be outraged. As for me, I enjoy the Essex Outlet Cinemas' loveseat-sized rockers for a reason, and I found it funny, if somewhat irrelevant considering the target audience for a Martin Lawrence comedy was born about ten years after 10 came out.

Of course, before Big Momma’s House 2 is over Big Momma straightens things out with the fractured family and in the process Malcolm realizes that the anxiety he was having about becoming a new father isn’t necessary because whatever lies in Big Momma’s heart is also in his.

Naturally Tom was not the bad guy after all, Leah sees the error of her ways, and the kids all become much better adjusted thanks to this corpulent good fairy. Big Momma’s work is done just in time to get home and become a Not-so-Big Papa, and as the credits roll the audience realizes that just like everybody in the movie we’ve been had ~ what was supposed to be a mean-spirited crime comedy turned out instead to be a gentle family film with a few PG-13 jokes to keep the grown-ups giggling.

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