Perhaps more so than any previous Tyler Perry movie, Boo! A Madea Halloween is a stunningly lazy film, one that almost refuses to have purpose or meaning throughout its incessantly tedious 103-minutes. But why should one expect otherwise? Apparently, the film’s genesis came from a throwaway joke taking aim at the actor/writer/director in Chris Rock’s own acting/writing/directing effort, Top Five. What’s next, a Madea Halloween movie? I guess so. The idea of Madea dealing with Halloween ignited creative passion. Or I have to assume that’s the case, because not one ounce of inspiration is visible throughout this aggravatingly meaningless movie, one that exists almost exclusively for financial gain.
There’s little point discussing the plot of Boo! A Madea Halloween, mostly because there’s hardly any plot at all. When straight-laced attorney Brian (Perry) needs to stop his 17-year-old daughter Tiffany (Diamond White) from attending a local fraternity’s annual Halloween bash, he calls up his reckless aunt Madea (Perry) to keep an eye on her during the nightly proceedings. She brings her brother Joe (Perry), Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) and her friend Hattie (Patrice Lovely) along for the ride, because why the hell not, and they get haunted by Tiffany’s fake ghouls around the house. Former Disney Channel starlet Bella Thorne, YouTuber Yousef Erakat and musician Tyga round out the cast, some mischief is pulled and everyone learns the value of family or whatever. If they didn’t put any effort into this plot, why should I?
As a character, I find Madea insulting and culturally regressive. As a recurring fixture of popular entertainment, however, I find her a disturbingly fascinating figure. As someone who has inexplicably seen every Madea movie to date, including the animated direct-to-DVD release Madea’s Tough Love, I’m perplexed by Perry’s ability to bring the black community two steps forward and five steps back with every single project he does, outside of David Fincher’s control. The astoundingly awfulness of each film gets more staggering each time. For as often as he tries to push himself dramatically outside of the popular wig and dress, Perry simply refuses to retire his most famous stage-and-screen character. From a financial perspective, it makes perfect (and unfortunate) sense, especially considering how this one might possibly be his most profitable to date, even though it’s quite honestly the absolute worst (though Madea Witness Protection gives it a run for its money). From a creative standpoint, however, it’s evident that Perry, the creator, has no real love or passion for this character anymore. He’s merely doing what’s expected of him.
Sure, he’ll laugh a couple times for the blooper reel during the credits, and he’ll do what he can to incorporate as many laughs as possible in each extended scene. But there’s no joy in his eyes. There’s little inspiring him beyond the paycheck, and these movies do make a tidy profit, no matter what, it seems. There was barely anything driving Madea before, but if you were to watch Diary of a Mad Black Woman (which he didn’t direct, by the way) and Boo! A Madea Halloween back-to-back, you’d see just how desperate, shallow and aimless these films have become. It would be embarrassing and pitiful if it weren’t so offensive and socially degrading.
Suggesting Madea is the African-American Ernest is too easy. She has already gone to prison, entered witness protection, saved Christmas and did bad all by herself. I can only assume later installments find Madea in space, going back to school, joining the army or visiting Vegas, but only the future will reveal such foretells as truth or fiction. The sad reality of the matter is that Perry seems to not only have little respect for the audience, but has little in mind for himself. As a self-made person of color who earned his billion dollar name through hard work, ambition and persistence, moviegoers should demand more, and Perry should expect more from himself. It’s saddening to know that he could become a powerful role model for young writers, filmmakers and entrepreneurs everywhere, yet he so often squanders his talents, potential and influence on aimless, degradingly uninspired comedies, where scenes will drag on for literally ten minutes or more with no plot progression, character development or laughs to be found. It’s a troubling, annoying problem, but it’s mostly a deeply saddening one.
I could continue bashing Boo! A Madea Halloween for all its problems, from its clunky pacing to disengaged supporting performances to hasty editing to flat lightning to totally uninspired cinematography, but what point is there to do such things? It’s clear Perry is a brand now, and he’s going to continue churning these things out until they no longer have an audience. I found it concerning to see more than 3/4ths of my audience were older white people, and sadly comical to see one of the few people of color in the audience loudly fart before the movie started. I’m not sure if I can address Perry or not, but I can only hope audiences stop going to these movies. If cinema is truly dying, I don’t want to know these are the kind of films that might honestly live on. This new Madea movie is pretty scary, but for all the wrong reasons.