Put Martin Lawrence in a dress and, it seems, you can take him literally anywhere.
Decades from now, scholars will, no doubt, pore over his films and write dissertations on "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son" (Fox)—the third installment in the "Big Momma" franchise that began with 2000's "Big Momma's House"—debating its place in the pantheon of men donning a fat suit and a dress, commiserating with women and finding their sensitive side.
For now, though, it will suffice to mention that the movie, although warm, is somewhat bland as comedies go.
Lawrence, having exhausted the comic possibilities—dubious to begin with—of eyeing nubile girls in his cross-dressed Big Momma guise, has turned that task over to Brandon T. Jackson. Jackson plays Trent, the son of Lawrence's real persona, FBI agent Malcolm, who poses as Big Momma's grandniece at an Atlanta girls' school. In this outing, Big Momma mostly delivers a number of rote falling-down gags.
To their considerable credit, director John Whitesell and screenwriter Matthew Fogel don't turn this into a leer-a-thon, but instead focus on Trent's choice between attending Duke University and making a quick payday with his rap group. Decisions made while young, the script points out, last far into adult life.
Having been caught up in an FBI informant's fatal encounter with mobsters, Trent is forced to join his resourceful father in drag at the fictional Atlanta Girls School for the Arts while Malcolm searches for a flash drive that will convict the bad guys.
Working as a housemother, Big Momma fends off some romantic advances, Trent gets to show off his musical skills, the students are instilled with some old-fashioned discipline and—a bit of untoward vocabulary aside—there's not much here to offend mature viewers. Though whether there's much to delight them is another question.
The film contains some gun violence, fleeting crude and crass language, and a partial rear view of a body suit. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
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