Movie Review: ‘TYLER PERRY’S BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN’ scares up laughs

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Courtney Howard // Film Critic

TYLER PERRY’S BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN | 1h 43min | PG-13
Directed by: Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry, Cassi DavisPatrice Lovely, Diamond White, Liza Koshy, Yousef Erakat, Brock O’Hurn, Mike Tornabene, Jimmy Tatro

Tyler Perry hit on something when he brought Madea to the silver screen. She’s a larger than life character whose motor mouth rattles off sassy zingers as much as hard criticism. Hellur! She first made her stage debut in I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF, but it was DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN that brought her fully-realized self to the big screen. And she was off and running, establishing herself as a lucrative franchise. Based on a Chris Rock joke in TOP FIVE, BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN marks Perry’s ninth spin rocking those oversize glasses and dowdy dresses. Though this isn’t a well-crafted movie by any means, when it works, and it does so intermittently, it’s legitimately funny.

Much to its detriment, there’s a plot; rebellious seventeen-year-old Tiffany (X-FACTOR finalist Diamond White) wants to go to a Halloween party at the nearby frat house, and naturally her disapproving, controlling father Brian (Perry) won’t allow it. Since Dad doesn’t want to leave her alone, and she doesn’t want to go to her mom’s with her little brother, Dad hires auntie Madea (Perry, again) to come over and make sure Tiffany stays at home. Because it’s Hallurween, she brings her squad – Brian’s tough-talkin’ dad Joe (Perry, yet again), pot-smoking Aunt Bam (Cassie Davis), and baby-voiced dimwit Hattie (Patrice Lovely). But Tiffany and her friend Aday (Liza Koshy, who is this film’s MVP), launch a plan to spook their “captors” into submission, allowing them an opportunity to sneak out to the party. Mayhem ensues.

Cassi Davis, Tyler Perry and Patrice Lovely in TYLER PERRY'S BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN. Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Cassi Davis, Tyler Perry and Patrice Lovely in TYLER PERRY’S BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN. Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Is this scary? No. Not in the least bit. Is this funny? Yes. Very much so. The fun is how Madea reacts to potential scares – like clowns in the attic, or someone hidden in an ice cream wagon, or the zombies that follow her into a church. Needless to say, the comedy ventures into the absurd and ludicrous often – and that’s where it finds success. It’s hard not to laugh when Madea pulls a hammer from her purse, or when she slings lines like “Who you know ride up in a box?!” and “It’s on a table in my heart.” BOO! seems to fall in line with the continuity of the MCU – the Madea Cinematic Universe – fairly well. Perry, who also wrote and directed, furthers her backstory, wisely parceling out more information on our beloved character’s history.

Unfortunately there’s a lot undermining its inherent likability. As I stated before, the overwhelming problem is that Perry wanted this gag to have a plot. It would’ve been so much better had he anchored the camera down to one location and stuck with Madea people-watching and getting spooked on Halloween. Pacing is a glaring issue. There’s too much time in between the hilarity and quite a few scenes in act one play long past their prime. It gets exhausting by the time we reach a rushed, not-well-thought-out act three. If I have enough time to think about a spin-off film called BABY TALK, featuring Lovely and Sugar Lyn Beard as two high-pitched heroines who run a failing talk radio show, then that’s a sign of trouble. Or is it? Someone get me the head of Lionsgate! Heart and emotion are crowbarred into the feature. None of it really works. Plus, Tiffany is inexplicably tasked to learn her lesson a second time, right after she learns it for the first time.

Ever the astute businessman, Perry cast a whole flock of “social media influencers” (like YouTube’s Yousef Erakat, Jimmy Tatro, and Instagram’s Brock O’Hurn and Mike Tornabene) in supporting roles. It’s a strategic move to play to their fan base whilst reaping the monetary rewards of a potential bigger box office. And just as you’d imagine, they are terrible actors. It’s doubtful they conversed about their shared “respect for the craft” on their lunch breaks. Maybe they did. I wasn’t there. They are there to service the broad comedy – only they detract from it. On the whole, the film looks like it was shot in less than a week on the tiniest of budgets. Sequences vary wildly between polished (most of the first act) and barely lit (too many to note). A few scenes that involve Perry in multiple roles simultaneously resemble those out of THE FATTIES: FART 2 rather than THE NUTTY PROFESSOR 2: THE KLUMPS, where it’s less about “how did they do that,” and more about “why did they do that.”

The subtext of the joke in TOP FIVE, which I’m not sure Perry fully comprehends (but nevertheless exploits), is that we can’t have nice things – and Rock’s being proven right as this is beating critically approved, certified-fresh films at the box office. That said, I’m happy Madea still continues to thrive. I only wished she had a better than slap-dash effort supporting her girth.

TYLER PERRY’S BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN is now playing.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.