"A Madea Family Funeral" is an odd collision of the two types of Tyler Perry movies: The rascally, easygoing comedy and the absurdly serious melodrama.
It's an unhappy marriage, as well as an awkward so-called funeral for the Madea character and franchise, the sassy, old lady with attitude alter ego which Perry has milked as his bell cow for the past decade and a half.
Perry has billed this film as his last go-round as Madea. Whether he sticks with that dubious promise remains to be seen, but this would be a sad way to see her go out.
Despite a few scenes of vintage, Madea-tells-it-like-it-is hilarity -- including an immensely satisfying early-film sequence involving a confrontation with a traffic cop -- "A Madea Family Funeral" is a sloppy, lifeless drag. What's most disappointing is that Perry ends up playing to his weakness rather than strengths.
Instead of giving Madea a fitting swan song and letting her run roughshod over the film's hokey villain, AJ (Courtney Burrell), he has Madea wither into the background for the most part, dishing out lukewarm takes rather than the piping hot takes audiences have come to savor. Maybe she's disinterested in the lame drama, in which AJ carries on a ludicrous affair with the woman his brother intends to marry, all under the same roof as they gather for the funeral of the family patriarch.
Perry also ends up yielding too much to, well, himself.
In addition to Madea, Perry plays three other characters, and many scenes end up with him in various costumes yelling at and interrupting other, less interesting versions of himself.
If this truly ends up being the final Madea movie, and someone put together a 90-minute highlight reel of her finest, most outrageous and gut-busting moments, only one or two scenes from this movie would end up making the cut.
If this is the way Perry is going to use Madea, maybe it's best to cut the character loose after all. Rest in peace, Madea. You're off to a better place.
RATING: 2 stars out of 4.