Benjamin Franklin once said that there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. Well, you can add “appalling Big Mommas movies” to that list. Sadly, the third instalment in the Martin Lawrence fat suit franchise fails to be a 21st Century Citizen Kane and instead is same predictable retread of old fat lady jokes that stretch the definition of the word “comedy” to breaking point.
Eager for his son to go to college, FBI Agent Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) ambushes his mailman (Ken Jeong in his latest “I did it for the money” cameo) for the acceptance letter to Duke. His son Trent (Brandon T. Jackson) has other ideas and needs Malcolm to sign a contract which will enable him to tour the US as a hip hop artist. When Malcolm refuses, Trent decides to follow him to work and inadvertently interrupts a stake out. Witnessing the murder of a police informant by a Russian crime boss, he’s forced to go undercover with Malcolm at an all-female performing arts school in order to retrieve a flash-drive that contains more incriminating evidence.
Naturally, this involves pretending to be a big-boned college girl as Trent joins Malcolm in donning a fat suit and makeup to infiltrate the school. But when Trent falls for Haley (Jessica Lucas), he has a conflict – blow his cover and reveal himself to the girl of his dreams or bury his head in the sand.
In some ways, it’s hard to criticise Big Mommas. It knows what it is and knows its key audience and chances are, if you found the previous two instalments amusing, you’ll find this equally so. However, if you actually like decent films, Big Mommas is a pimple, nay a colossal zit on the face on cinema that no amount of Clearsil will remove.
Every joke you’d expect to be in here is here. So we have Big Momma falling over; Big Momma revealing her rolls for a fine art class, jokes about how tricky it is to go to the toilet while wearing a skirt and the pièce de résistance, an overweight caretaker who finds her Big Momma irresistible (one of the golden rules in any drag comedy is that as soon as a man puts on make-up, not only is his disguise completely infallible but at least one male cast member will fall in love with him).
To analyse the plot is almost an exercise in pointlessness. If they’ve witnessed a murder, why do they need to go undercover anyway? It’s a film devoid of any kind of sense or intelligence but more importantly laughs. In fact the film’s solitary chuckle comes from the line “You’re so amazing with words”, a line so untrue, it’s impossible to stifle an outburst of “Ha!” All in all, it’s about as funny as a kneecapping.