Big Momma's House Review

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Martin Lawrence plays an undercover FBI agent forced to impersonate a grumpy grandmother in order to nab an escaped bank robber.


About 15 minutes into Big Momma's House, Lawrence's Malcolm finds himself trapped behind a shower curtain, unbeknownst to the diarrhoea-stricken Big Momma huffing and puffing on the toilet. As his horror grows, Lawrence heaves at the window, pulls at his nose, contorts his body and generally behaves in a way that suggests some distress. Some will find this puerile, others will find it hysterical, and this pretty much sums up the appeal - or not - of Big Momma's House.

For this is not, to be fair, a sophisticated comedy. But nor does it ever pretend to be anything other than what it is - a mindless companion to a bucket of popcorn. Adding absolutely nothing new to any recognisable genre, Big Momma's house tries to recreate the vibe of Beverly Hills Cop while pinching the best moments from numerous other - and better - movies: step forward Tootsie, as Sherry gets into bed with Big Momma/Malcolm during a scary thunderstorm and Malcolm gets a bit hot under the "collar"; take a bow Mrs. Doubtfire, as Malcolm faces disaster in the kitchen; and a round of applause for, er, The Nutty Professor, as Lawrence makes the most of the humorous opportunities afforded by his make-up.

There are some plus points - the action is slickly paced and Lawrence throws himself into womanhood with gusto - but not many. Using a blatantly contrived - and shockingly limp - plot to showcase pretend-Big Momma's hilarious antics and develop the achingly predictable romance (after the initial scene-setting, the stakeout which the film is nominally about is more-or-less forgotten), the film tears along at a fast pace.

Culminates in a rushed finale that goes for laughs and drama but achieves neither. Add to this a daft script and a clutch of skirt-stuck-in-knickers-type moments, and you know the Academy won't be losing any sleep.