You know? I feel like it was only a matter of time before Madea came to B-Movie Enema. And, sure, maybe I could have started with the beginning of the MCU (no, not that one – the Madea Cinematic Universe), but screw it. It’s time for Halloween and dagnabbit, this seems to be oozing with potential to begin with. So, here it is… Welcome to the blog, Tyler Perry, and let’s talk about Boo! A Madea Halloween.
Damn… There’s a lot to unpack here, but I think we should do some seasonal stuff first.
October is kind of a special time for me. It’s the centerpiece of my favorite season, fall, and a month that I love getting bundled up with the lights out and watching horror movies. It was also the month in which B-Movie Enema was born. Way back in 2014, B-Movie Enema began, but it also ended shortly afterwards. However, once it was resurrected in early 2016, October has been a whole thing here. This month, I’m doing all movies that have a very specific Halloween slant to them. We begin with Mr. Tyler Perry and his Madea character.
Now, you might think that I’m going to be smug or overly critical of Tyler Perry and his movies – particularly the character that he personally plays, Madea. But I actually have a great deal of respect for Tyler Perry. Perry, on a personal level, seems to be a really good dude who had to grow up in some pretty bad situations. I won’t go into the gory details, but let’s just say it was bad enough for him to nearly take his own life. He eventually ended up in Atlanta in the early 90s and found a career in drama. He didn’t complete high school, but he did earn a GED and discovered peace through writing.
He also, I think, is a fan of Star Trek. At least, he appeared as the admiral in charge of Starfleet Academy in JJ Abrams’ first Star Trek film, so I guess we have at least one thing in common.
Tyler became incredibly powerful in black entertainment. He mostly focused on comedic family and community situations that also have a heavy Christian slant. He is a Christian and I honestly believe that he just sees and experienced all sorts of different types of people in church and at various community events and he kind of poured that into his writing. It is true that he has faced some backlash for how he portrays black people on TV and in his films. Spike Lee, in particular, had a particularly scathing critique of Perry’s work, but I am not prepared to even pretend that I can step into that warzone to offer any opinion.
What I can do is say that I do think Tyler Perry is VERY important to black production folks, actors and actresses, writers, and directors. He runs an entire studio in Georgia that is dedicated to giving African American folks jobs in front of and behind the camera. I think it is important to understand how and where he grew up and his life experiences. He’s a southerner, having been born in New Orleans before relocating to Atlanta. He’s a Christian. He had a rough childhood, but he seemed to have loved his mother dearly. All I can say about those who levy criticism against him for certain portrayals within his characters, I don’t think Perry is the same type of filmmaker or figure that some of those folks either think he is or wants him to be. I think he’s an entertainer, and I think he likes the idea of working within lighter fare.
I’m just going to leave it at that.
I will transition to talk about Perry’s greatest creation – the wisecrackin’, tough, and kind of rough around the edges Mabel Earlene Simmons, aka Madea. Now, there’s a whole backstory to Madea that I don’t think we’re going to see too much in Boo! because this is the ninth film (tenth if you count the animated film Madea’s Tough Love one year prior to this). The character has always been played by Perry himself. She speaks her mind, she’s kind of foul-mouthed, and her appearances began on stage and slid all around her timeline.
Sometimes the character is in her late 60s. Sometimes she’s considerably older. Obviously, the character resonates with people because there have been, to date, twelve movies, that previously stated parenthetical animated movie, and eleven plays (some of which I don’t think have been adapted into films yet) in which the character has been seen. In a sort of way, I think some people just like outrageous characters and Madea kind of fits that bill perfectly for people. In other ways, I do think this is kind of a progression of what Eddie Murphy did in The Nutty Professor in 1996 by playing all sorts of familial characters who are crude and rude and hilarious. That was like some sort of watershed moment that ultimately led to Martin Lawrence playing Big Mama, the Wayans brothers playing white chicks, and now Madea becoming a sort of icon in some way.
So, now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way, allow me to press play on not just the first Madea movie I’ve ever seen but the very first Tyler Perry directed movie I’ve ever seen.
The movie opens at Upsilon Theta fraternity at some college. Now, I will admit that there is kind of a decent visual joke right out of the gate. The Greek letters for Upsilon Theta looks like “YO”. Now, the frat is hyped big time for Halloween. Why’s that? Because YO has a long-standing tradition for throwing the best Halloween parties on campus. Some of the senior members of the frat has gone out to find pledges who are in film makeup or good at hacking into shit or really good dancers for their next party.
The fuck bois… er, I mean frat boys have spotted some girls from the all girls’ school outside. The guys instantly want to invite them – especially since the girls are super hot. These girls want to go to the party. We have Tiffany, whose dad is played by Tyler Perry, Aday, who is not so sure about going to the party, Leah, who is just kind of a generic white chick, and Rain, played Bella Thorne. Like I just mentioned Aday is not so sure about going to the party, but Tiffany is all about it. I think the main reason why three of the girls are not so sure about the party is because they are girl school attendees and don’t party with frat guys as well as the fact that Tiffany’s dad made a big deal about the girls kind of loitering outside the YO house.
By the way… Is it me or was there a period of time, and this movie kind of falls squarely into that time, that Bella Thorne was in, like, everything? Anyway, I digress.
Rain is quite specific in saying that there’s no way that Tiffany is going to be allowed to go the Halloween party, but Tiffany says she’ll deal with however it is she’ll figure out how she will get there to meet the girls. As soon as Tiffany gets home, her dad, Brian, lays into her about going by the frat house. She’s pissed when she finds out that Brian plans to send her and her little brother to their mom’s for the weekend so he can get some work done at the office. Tiffany basically says that she will not be going to her mom’s and that she’s going to hang out at home with Aday and that’s that.
Brian is a tiny bit of that typical cartoonish dad in over his head. He tries to lay down the law, but he stumbles over his words and he gets steamrolled by his daughter and his ex-wife. However, as he was packing stuff up for his ex to pick up his son and head back to work, he finds messages going back and forth between Tiffany and one of the frat boys that gives up the plans she had for going to the party. Even worse, he sees the frat guy tell her to wear something SEXY (in all caps) and her flirting back saying he should do the same.
I should also probably mention that it’s been established that Tiffany is 17 and all the frat guys are played by actors who are almost 30.
But I’m not here for that storyline. I’m here for Madea. And sure enough… Madea is outside with one of her old lady friends. The friend, Aunt Bam, is handing out Halloween candy. Bam has a prescription for weed. Bam drops a piece of candy into the kids’ bags and as she does that, she nabs several pieces out of the kids’ bags. Why? Because she’s got the munchies.
I’m almost positive there is not a single line of dialog written in this scene between Madea and Bam. I feel like there’s a framework for what is supposed to be happening in the scene and Tyler Perry and whatever other actors are around are just riffing. Just riffing for minutes after minutes.
Brian calls Madea and has her come over to his house to watch after Tiffany while he leaves for the weekend. Shortly after, a creepy clown come sup with a giant Jack-in-the-Box. When someone jumps out of the box, Madea punches her. It turns out it’s her brother, Joe, and their friend, Hattie Mae.
Considering I’m coming into this MCU with the ninth movie, is this what these Madea movies are all about? Madea just part of an never-ending parade of characters? These characters just spitfire dialog back and forth? Madea comments on everything around her with “brutal” “honesty”?
This is already kind of exhausting.
To Brian’s surprise, Madea has brought his father (Joe), Hattie Mae, and Bam. And they are loud and never stop talking and never stop ripping each other’s asses. One of these characters are going to rip a fart before this movie is over, aren’t they?
Also, the majority of this movie is going to take place in this room with these four older characters, isn’t it?
I’m actually kind of in awe of the pacing of this movie. I’m 25 minutes into this movie, a quarter of the total runtime of this movie, and we’ve not even gotten Tiffany to the frat party. Madea has come into this movie like a fucking wrecking ball and has completely, totally taken this movie over. She shouts. She steamrolls other characters – even the other ones played by Tyler! She cracks wise about beating the hell out of Brian when he was a little kid and blames him for supposedly having to be on “life support” after she beat his ass.
I’m not even mad. I’m actually shocked a movie could be so slow-moving yet so frenetic and insane and exhausting. The movie kept going as I was typing the last couple paragraphs, and we’ve not even left the sitting room with Madea, Joe, Bam, and Hattie Mae. This is some sort of experimental shit going on here. Maybe even some sort of expressionism form of filmmaking. Southern Expressionism. Yeah, I kind of like the sound of that.
So Tiffany finds out that, despite his best efforts to hide the real reason why she’s here, Madea is there to watch after her to make sure she doesn’t leave. Tiffany comes up with a plan for her and Aday to trick the old people into either leaving or go to bed early. Tiffany comes downstairs with a Ouija board – except she calls it a “ghost board” because they didn’t have the rights to have an actual Ouija board in it.
Tiffany spins a yarn about how a ghost haunts the house. She says that only rooms the ghost won’t go into and try to claim a life every Halloween are the bedrooms. She has Aday use a remote control to make the lights flicker.
I don’t have a problem saying that Tiffany is a massively shitty turd of a 17 year-old kid. She’s a brat. She’s flirtatious as hell. She flat out tells her aunts and grandpa that she’s done talking to old people and goes back upstairs to her room. Granted, Madea is a monster, but at least she’s supposed to be a monster. Tiffany is an actual villain.
Tiffany and Aday sneaks out, which Madea discovers instantly. So what happens? Madea, Bam, and Hattie Mae drive to the frat house to get Tiffany back. Some of the frat guys asks to see Madea’s tits.
I’m not even kidding. That happens. Madea shows her tits to some college guys.
Then, because they think Madea is a guy in a Halloween costume, they are stunned by how real the boobs look. So she invites them to touch them.
Sometimes you know what you’re getting yourself into with one of these movies. I put a movie on the calendar and I can kind of guess what I’m getting myself into. Silent Rage? I suspect Chuck Norris is gonna kick the shit out of a guy. Blood Harvest? Kooky Tiny Tim in a clown costume. Then, there’s Boo! A Madea Halloween. I know things are going to happen that will be crazy and silly. I didn’t expect for Madea to be giving out boob grabs. Holy shit.
Now, if you thought this sounds like a movie in which the Tyga will show up to perform at the party while a sexy girl dances sexily before eventually Madea and Hattie Mae get involved? You’d be 100% right.
It’s amazing how simple this movie’s plot is. Tiffany wants to go to a college party. Madea shows up and causes a scene. Tiffany’s white girl friends want to stop hanging out with her. Then Tiffany plans to fuck a college dude. That’s the entire plot of the movie. Madea takes up the other 95 minutes by spitballin’ dialog until we’re utterly beaten into submission.
Here… Allow me to break this down in a single image.
I honestly don’t know if there’s a better representation of this experience. I’m being berated by Madea. You’re just sitting there watching me take it. I am powerless here. This movie is just happening to my body, mind, and eyes.
Bam calls the police for Madea. If you think this is a movie in which the primary character, that is also in the title of the movie, has issues with the fuzz, you’d be 100% correct. Madea doesn’t just have outstanding warrants (because of course she does), she’s also on the terrorist list too. How do you think that works? How does Madea have outstanding warrants in a town that she very clearly is very much a part of the community?
Oh never mind.
So the cops come and shut down the party at YO house. They know it was Madea that caused this problem. They aren’t so happy with Tiffany and Aday either because they found out they are both only 17. Regardless, they plan to get revenge on the old folks. In the meantime, Tiffany has come home. She tells Madea that she was sleeping in her dad’s room and that’s why she couldn’t find her earlier. However, Tiffany’s worried about Aday because they got separated when the frat guys found out they were underage.
As the night goes on, spooky things happen. The bathroom faucet turns on by itself and messages start appearing on the mirror. A TV in one of the rooms keeps turning itself on and can’t be turned off. Then, Hattie Mae hears the voice of the ghost that Tiffany was talking about earlier. The TV also has a creepy clown on it saying scary things and stuff.
Madea goes upstairs alone to check out the attic. There are two good jokes here. See? I can give this movie credit – aside from the bizarre pacing that feels almost artistically experimental. When she goes upstairs, Joe, her own brother, says in a perfectly delivered and timed line, “I want you all to know, if she don’t come back… that’s a dude.” Then, when Madea is looking around the attic, a creepy clown monster thing tries sneaking up on her but she punches it. When she punches the creepy clown in the nose, it makes the funny clown nose honking sound. I laughed.
Oh god… I laughed.
Anyway, Madea tells Bam and Hattie Mae they are going to her place. They turn to the door and see a clown like the one in the attic at the door. Then, one shows up behind Madea but she beats that one up so they can escape. They go to the car and get in, but Madea forgot the keys inside. Meanwhile, Joe is just inside trying to sleep on the couch. But eventually, the creepy clown pays a visit to Joe.
Aday’s father calls Madea looking for his daughter. Madea knows that she too snuck out to go to that frat party, but no one’s seen her since she left there. When Madea’s car breaks down, the women are chased by zombies. Madea makes her way to a church where she begs for help. When she gets there, Aday has gone there because it’s her father’s church. She explains that after Madea got the cops involved the frat guys got so mad they planned revenge on her by hacking into the TV and the lights and so on. So they were the ones who got in the house as creepy clowns, they were messing with the old ladies, and they all dressed up as zombies and chased Madea, Bam, and Hattie Mae.
Madea calls Brian and he comes home. Madea and Joe explain what happened. They also tell Brian that he needs to set Tiffany straight. Now, here’s where things get a little shady. Joe and Madea tell Brian that his way of parenting has led to her being this brat. He needs to take the reins and be forceful with his daughter. They would kind of like him to smack her around a bit. Brian does toughen his tone, but when he doesn’t really do much more than wilt after she basically tells him to get fucked, Madea wants to fuck her up. Madea wants Brian to kick Tiffany out of the house. When he refuses, Madea decides to do it herself.
Madea, Bam, and Hattie Mae bust into Tiffany’s room and basically tell her to beat cheeks. Tiffany wants her dad to stop these crazy old broads. He tells her to not look at him, and she snaps. She says Brian lets everyone walk all over him. His ex-wife. Her husband. Even Tiffany. Tiffany says that Brian wasn’t respected by his wife when she had an affair in their house. Eventually, Brian has had enough and tells Tiffany that he was really trying to protect her from the bad stuff that was going on in her parents’ relationships and so on and so forth. Madea gets the last word in by telling Tiffany that she understands why Tiffany is upset at her parents, but they aren’t perfect. They can only do better and she needs to help with that and so on and so forth.
You might think that this would effectively end this movie, but you’d be wrong. There’s still 15 minutes to go. The cops come to the door and tell Tiffany that Aday is a missing girl and she needs to come with them. The next day, the police go to the frat house to find out about the missing girl. One of the frat guys go to the basement and find Aday’s body with her throat slashed.
I’m not going to belabor this… All this is a “scare them straight” kind of conclusion to this movie. However, I have a really important question – why are we doing this? We, as the audience, know Aday is not dead. We saw her at her father’s church and she told Madea about the frat guys. Tiffany had something to do with the frat guys messing with Madea and the other old fogies. So, yeah, they are all going straight to jail. They are literally loaded onto a prison bus with hardened criminals. All this to teach a lesson.
Did the movie fall too short of an appropriate runtime? Did they need this stinger? Was it necessary to go this far in teaching the lesson to the frat guys and the bratty girls? Tiffany got her correction. Oh well… The movie is over. The jerks got their comeuppance. And for the final stinger, Brian reveals that the cops he brought to do this final scared straight prank were real cops and they chase Madea off. Because, you know, she’s got a rap sheet a mile long or something?
Now, if you’d think this is the type of movie that would have outtakes and bloopers during the credits, holy shit, you’d be right.
Okay. Again, I have to give this movie some real credit that its pacing is absolutely bonkers. There is hardly a plot. It’s a lot of Madea just riffing like mad…ea. It’s like when your wheels get stuck spinning on ice. You’re hardly moving forward, but it’s crazy and frenetic and you’re sliding all the hell over the place. By the time you get anywhere, you’re not sure if you’re really alive anymore. Your heart is racing but, goddammit, it took you 100 minutes to get from point A to point B. Before you know it, you’re just babbling and typing words like a madman.
I… I don’t think I need to revisit the Madea Cinematic Universe. I get the gist. She’s a crazy lady. She speaks her mind and she gets herself in trouble a lot. She’s like the kind of reputation someone you work with or some lame-o in your family tries to front with by saying they always stir up shit when they’re just an asshole. If this is your thing, and I know my mom loves these movies, I’m not going to hold it against you. This is relatively vanilla stuff that flirts with more mature themes. I can let people have their fun.
We are immediately going to launch this month of spooks and scares into the stratosphere next week, though. B-Movie Enema is going to cover one of my personal favorite Halloween time movies – Hack-o-Lantern! If you want to know when everything drops and what happens when, go to the little icons on the top of the sidebar that runs on the right hand side of the screen and follow B-Movie Enema on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to the YouTube and Vimeo channels as well so you can check out all those lovely episodes of B-Movie Enema: The Series!
So until next time, when we plan on having a devilishly good time, don’t get caught by the po-po, kick your 17 year-old daughters out of the house, and create a prank so good that you make some frat boys piss themselves!