With the success of Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Tyler Perry’s iconic character of Madea returns in this follow up where she does what she does best: help family and go after anyone who messes with her.
A lot has been going for Mabel “Madea” Simmons. She has been planning her family reunion and issues within her family have been causing some major problems. Once again arrested, Madea is forced to take a teen runaway, Nikki, or face jail time. Madea reluctantly accepts and faces the challenge of dealing with her. However, that’s nothing compared to what her family is going through.
Victoria, a matriarch, has been nothing but mean to oldest daughter Vanessa while she expects younger daughter Lisa to marry Carlos Armstrong for her financial benefit. However, Carlos is unscrupulous and very abusive, both emotionally and physically towards Lisa. Vanessa finds solace when she meets local bus driver Frankie, and it is a traumatic event from childhood that has prevented her from pursuing a stable relationship. However, all will be revealed at this reunion and Madea may just have to be the glue that sticks this family together.
Tyler Perry has become quite the filmmaking force since transitioning from his days as a playwright. With the success of his debut film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, in 2005, it was only fitting that Perry had something going and it comes in the form of his iconic character of gun-toting, loud-mouth matriarch Mabel “Madea” Simmons in what is his directorial debut as Darren Grant had directed Madea’s first film appearance.
Once again, Perry takes the reigns as he not only plays Madea, but add to the mix Madea’s token brother Uncle Joe and Joe’s son Brian, who is Madea’s lawyer aside from being her nephew. While Madea may be more a comic style character, she is also one who gives life lessons to those close to her. While things don’t go well with his new foster child, the two eventually form a bond where Keke Palmer’s Nikki goes from troublesome teen to respectable young lady.
However, like the previous film, Madea is more than just the comic relief of the film, but the heart of the film when it comes to her family. This is apparent as much of the focus is on the sisterly duo of Lisa and Vanessa. For Lisa, played by Rochelle Aytes, it’s about having to endure the constant abuse of her fiancé Carlos, played by a very evil Blair Underwood, who is more akin to playing nice guys in a good against type role. As for Lisa Arrindell Anderson’s Vanessa, she is still reeling from the traumatic childhood, which had been destroyed by the sisters’ mother’s actions and how mother expects Lisa to be her “caretaker” when she should stop living through Lisa. Lynn Whitfield’s conniving matriarch is practically just as evil as Carlos and it seems like they should be more of a couple.
Aside from Perry’s Madea, the heart of the family truly belong to fellow aunts May and Myrtle, played respectively by literary legend Maya Angelou and acting legend Cicely Tyson. Tyson makes the most of her role as she gives not one, but two inspiring speeches that help motivate everyone involved. She gives a speech to Lisa about what love should be about but it is her speech at the reunion in front of everything that truly bring heart and soul, showing what family should be about.
Madea’s Family Reunion is a great, heartwarming and dramatic film that despite its title, has Madea not so much a central character, but revolves more around the two sisters who must overcome their personal issues to move on with Madea being one to bring heart and soul the only way she knows how.
WFG RATING: B
A Lionsgate presentation of a Tyler Perry Studios production. Director: Tyler Perry. Producers: Tyler Perry and Reuben Cannon. Writer: Tyler Perry. Cinematography: Toyomichi Kurita. Editing: John Carter.
Cast: Tyler Perry, Blair Underwood, Lynn Whitfield, Boris Kodjoe, Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Rochelle Aytes, Maya Angelou, Cicely Tyson, Keke Palmer.