Here’s a first for me: I bought a ticket to see Geostorm and, due to screening room signs being renovated and being pointed in the wrong direction, I walked into the theater showing Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween instead. Both films started at the same time and, since this was opening night, I found myself in a packed house. I’ve never walked into the wrong movie before. Such was the level of my confidence that I was in the right place, I wasn’t immediately tipped off when the logo for Perry’s production company flashed across the screen. As the opening credits unspooled, I let out an audible “Oh, no…” but kept watching. After all, I like Perry and really enjoyed some of his movies. Surely, unexpectedly walking into his latest movie wouldn’t be a total loss. One hundred minutes later, I wondered if the audience watching Geostorm felt as ripped off as I did.
Diamond White stars as Tiffany, a young college student who winds up sneaking off with her friends to a Halloween party. Her Dad, the out-of-touch Brian (played by Perry), is furious that his daughter would deceive him. Brian’s Mother, the outspoken Madea (also Perry) and his vulgar father Joe (Perry again) take off on a road trip to save their granddaughter, who is headed for a camp where murders reportedly took place.
Every single scene goes on too long, as if Perry was too in love with his material and had no idea how far to take each bit. The performances range from bad, trying-too-hard or downright robotic. Perry has often had a hard time ending his movies, often resorting to rushed wrap-ups. Here, the big reveal is poorly handled and lazily explained. The closing gag reel comes with no warning or credits playing over it–we’re suddenly just watching the cast goof around, which is as unfunny as every other scene here.
Perry’s best films (namely “Why Did I Get Married?” and its sequel) exude an affection for the characters and a passion for the stories he tells. His latest is beyond amateurish. It’s unworthy of his distinct voice as a filmmaker. His cinematic craftsmanship may remain a work in progress but even his rocky film debut (Diary of a Mad Black Woman) didn’t feel like a just-make-it-up home movie.
One of Perry’s absolute worst films, For Colored Girls, is a rotten adaptation of the extraordinary play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enough by Ntozake Shange. The play was written as a poem, while Perry made a film with the dialogue half-poetry recitation, half Perry melodrama. It’s a remarkable failure but still illustrates an attempt to broaden his directorial abilities and showcases some great actresses, who rise above the limitations imposed on them. It was the last time Perry really tried to make a great film. I have a soft spot for his trashy guilty pleasure, Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, but most of his recent output are corny, moralizing comedies that might work better as the extended church skits they obviously are.
Perry shouldn’t necessarily have to listen his critics but he could use constructive criticism on story structure. Boo 2! barely feels like a movie, coming off more like a hastily assembled work in progress, intended to please Madea fans who deserve so much more than they’re getting.
To put it mildly, the racial stereotypes, insensitivity and reliance on minstel show-level yuks is off the charts. Spike Lee’s Bamboozled warned us about movies like Boo 2! Watching this is being trapped in comedy purgatory. Imagine having a sustained sinking feeling of watching someone remaking Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and pile on an endless stream of outdated racist jokes.
The moments where Joe hits on an underage teen feel especially wrong-headed and out of touch. There’s no lesson, warmth or real laughs here. Perry’s considerable talent is not visible this time. As far as tossed-off Halloween-themed comedies go, this one endures as much as a stale candy corn rotting inside your stomach.