Madea's Family Reunion (2006)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Urban Drama, Reunion Films, Family Drama, Melodrama, Urban Comedy  |   Release Date - Feb 24, 2006 (USA)  |   Run Time - 107 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Derek Armstrong

If Tyler Perry's schizophrenic Madea movies didn't make so much money, it would be tempting to say he should pick a tone and stick to it. But as Madea's Family Reunion grossed 63 million dollars on top of the 50-million-dollar hit Diary of a Mad Black Woman, he must be doing something right. His agenda is even more transparent this time out. Although her name appears in the title, his Madea is little more than a bait and switch, contributing a few scenes of wacky senior-citizen aggressiveness so Perry can lure in the target audience for his proselytizing. Anyone expecting 100 minutes of zany episodes will be surprised to find this film weighed down by domestic violence, rape, child abuse, and copious amounts of God talk -- topics worth addressing, but not necessarily in what's marketed as a feel-good family reunion movie. The reunion itself is almost inconsequential to the plot, further exacerbating the false advertising. If Perry's messages were all socially responsible, that would be one thing, but there's a dangerous undercurrent of violence that just can't escape notice. For one, Madea whips her foster daughter (Keke Palmer) into shape -- literally beating on her twice, in scenes that are meant to be funny -- and produces an angelic, obedient teenager. Elsewhere, Madea encourages her niece (Rochelle Aytes) to throw boiling grits in the face of her abusive fiancé (Blair Underwood), and then beat him with the frying pan. Structurally, the film is also a lost cause -- the dialogue is too blunt, and the secondary characters are rarely introduced or accounted for later on. There's no doubt Perry is trying to make conscientious films that visit genres (romance, broad comedy) which are historically popular with black audiences, but in his quest to purify souls, he may be unintentionally poisoning them.