Like Mark Twain, the reports of Madea’s death have been greatly exaggerated. The director-writer-producer-actor has said “A Madea Family Funeral” is the last on-screen outing for Tyler Perry’s signature character, but it’s not her passing that’s being mourned in Perry’s new film.
Instead of Madea’s death, “A Madea Family Funeral” introduces audiences to a new arm of Madea’s relatives — just so we can see someone killed off without any risk of sentiment. The family gathers to celebrate the wedding anniversary of Anthony (Derek Morgan) and Vianne (Jen Harper), but since this is a Tyler Perry movie, their marriage isn’t quite the happy union it seems.
Madea (Perry), Joe (Perry again), Brian (ditto), Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) and Hattie (Patrice Lovely) witness Anthony dying mid-tryst with a mistress, but the family drama doesn’t end there. In the midst of the funeral preparations, it becomes clear that Anthony wasn’t the only one stepping out on his spouse.
That thread of soapy melodrama contrasts with the broad comedy brought by Madea and company, combining Perry’s two main styles of films. This feels like two movies for the price of one, but the audience isn’t getting a deal.
There’s slapstick, of course, but literal open-handed hits get the biggest laughs. Most of the jokes don’t really land as Perry intends. A new character, Madea’s raunchy brother Heathrow, should give Perry a chance to stretch, but he’s really just Joe with a different wig and the addition of an electrolarynx.
Perry has said he’s tired of playing Madea and all the accoutrements involved in the role, and that fatigue is evident on screen. “A Madea Family Funeral” seems like a less-than-worthy sendoff for a woman who has endured the horrors of jail, witness protection and family reunions over the years. Her last line in the film — a bland blooper bit about excrement — goes out on a deep bass note that’s at once fitting and undeserving of the meddling matriarch’s almost 20-year run.
‘A Madea Family Funeral’
Rated: PG-13, for crude sexual content, language, and drug references throughout
Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes
Playing: In general release