For Your Consideration: A Madea Christmas
Cast: Tyler Perry, Tika Sumpter, Chad Michael Murray, Larry the Cable Guy
Director: Tyler Perry
Writer: Tyler Perry
It’s time to rediscover that festive spirit everybody. It’s A Madea Christmas! IMDb and Google tell me that I can look forward to Madea “dispensing her unique form of holiday spirit on a rural town when she’s coaxed into helping a friend pay her daughter a surprise visit in the country for Christmas” and that it’s part of a long-running franchise. Always a good sign…
This feature is part of my Razzie 2014 special, and alongside its nod for Worst Picture, A Madea Christmas is also nominated for Worst Actress, Worst Supporting Actor, Worst Screen Combo, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay. Well done?
For the full Citizen Kane of Awful experience, get some friends involved, have a viewing party, whatever takes your fancy. Remember, this feature isn’t about laughing at terrible films, it’s about laughing at them together.
00:00:27 – Okay, these opening credits are weird. There’s some pleasant Christmas animation in the background, but it’s overshadowed by the inexplicable inclusion of the entire cast’s headshots alongside their character names. Just…why?
00:01:03 – This is weird, but I quite like it. The studio set, bisected like a doll’s house, slowly lights up from the darkness as one of the cast sings ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’. This film was adapted from a play, so this opening feels strangely appropriate.
00:02:35 – The song is still going on, now with the whole house singing. This is insane. I love it.
00:05:15 – Am I watching the right film?
00:08:35 – “Jesus is not a DJ that plays requests ma’am” One thing I didn’t expect from this film was cutting commentary on religion.
OK STOP. STOP. I’VE BEEN WATCHING THE WRONG THING.
This is awkward. What I’m watching and kind of enjoying seems to be a recording of the play, ‘A Madea Christmas’. Is eight minutes too long for me to take to realise that? I’ll let you decide. I’m not going to delete this mishap, because this feature should be true to my viewing experience. And it’s kinda hilarious in an endearing way, right…? So, now to go and find the real A Madea Christmas…
00:01:27 – Okay, we’re back! Madea is here and dressed as Father Christmas for a job in a shopping mall. Wittily, she describes her outfit as looking like “the red light district”. Because it’s red. Geddit?
00:02:39 – So far this film is unintelligible, unfunny stand-up that rambles on for the sake of Tyler Perry hearing his own voice.
00:03:28 – Well hey there pardner, it’s Chad Michael Murray from that there One Tree Hill playing proper hick as he demands some kind of Christmas…tree? Or jubilee? It’s hard to tell. He’s actually solid as a put-upon farmer though, talking about how a dam upriver has ruined the town’s crops.
00:05:26 – Wow this is tedious. Perry’s made the terrible decision to shoot all of his very long, very boring dialogue scenes in one continuous two-shot. I’m desperate for a cut to take me away from this sight. Please, a cut to anything will do. ANYTHING.
00:07:17 – Lacey is Madea’s niece, and there’s a kid in her class who doesn’t speak up because he’s embarrassed about being a farm boy. Perfectly serviceable scene, but we’ve all seen it a million times before and it’s very boring.
00:09:27 – This makes no sense. An old friend calls Lacey from out of the blue and agrees to donate $100,000 to her school in exchange for…some kind of publicity thing? I don’t know, it was incredibly unclear.
00:11:40 – This is a mess. Madea’s got into some argument with a customer, which trust me, you won’t care about enough for me to go into details. Suffice to say, Madea is probably the most irritating, worthless, creative blank of a character I’ve ever had the misfortune of watching. We’re only 11 minutes in.
00:14:09 – I think we’ve finally reached something resembling a plot. Lacey can’t come home for Christmas and she’s clearly unhappy with the idea of her mum visiting her instead. Then, she commits the worst crime I’ve ever witnessed in a film and says “Momma, it’s only Christmas!” She was my favourite character ten seconds ago.
00:25:03 – I just laughed! I don’t believe it! Madea, her sister and the guy writing $100,000 cheques (Oliver) on a whim are travelling to visit Lacey and they stop at a service station so Madea can use the bathroom. The owner directs her to a building across the street, she opens the door, and it’s a Ku Klux Klan meeting! I think it was the shock that did it more than anything.
00:29:25 – They’ve arrived at Lacey’s house and her mum is being rude and insensitive towards Conner, who she thinks is a farmhand, but is definitely Lacey’s husband. It’s still really boring.
00:33:26 – This film has a strong anti-bullying message, with Lacey and now Madea defending the clever kid, Bailey, from bullies in his class. That’s something I suppose.
00:38:20 – Oliver, the rich guy tries to kiss Lacey, but she rebuffs him. Then they rush inside as we see that Madea has attached the kid who stole her purse to the cross. You raised a small smirk there Perry, but I’m not about to change my opinion of this film anytime soon.
00:42:20 – Conner’s parents have arrived too (uh oh, culture clash!), but they’re generally lovely apart from one comment from the dad (Larry the Cable Guy!). Lacey tells him that she doesn’t eat meat, and he replies “if she don’t eat meat, that might be a bad thing when it comes to certain parts of the anatomy!”
00:43:22 – Hahaa, good line. We finally get to the bones of the story as Lacey tells Conner’s parents that her mum had dreams for her future other than her marrying someone like Conner. Conner’s dad replies, “When she had them dreams, was they in colour or black and white?” Again, this film is truly terrible but at least it has its heart in the right place with strong, positive messages about racial tolerance and anti-bullying.
00:47:27 – There’s some good-natured joking now between Conner’s parents and Madea. The film’s actually waking up a bit now, making a couple of nice little jokes out of the clash between black and redneck culture.
00:53:37 – They recycled that Ku Klux Klan joke again with Conner’s dad getting caught up in a bedsheet. That’s a shame.
00:56:39 – This is definitely a lot more tolerable now the characters have some plot to work with. Just a shame it took a good 40 minutes to get there.
00:59:12 – “Oh hell no”. Chad Michael Murray just found out that the company sponsoring their Christmas Jubilee thing is the same company that built the dam which ruined their crops. On a sidenote, Chad must be really pissed that he’s not even the lead redneck. I mean come on, One Tree Hill wasn’t that long ago.
1:07:02 – Now Chad’s swaggered into the mayor’s office and demanded Lacey is fired for organising the sponsor – who also wants to remove any mention of Jesus or the Nativity from their Christmas Jubilee. He’s being a teeny bit racist now. I don’t like that Chad. Why don’t you go back to where you came from. They miss you over at Tree Hill High.
1:12:24 – Lol what? So damn clumsy. The truth finally comes out about Lacey and Conner, Eileen protests, and then Lacey replies: “I know momma, I know my daddy was killed by a white man. A white man on Christmas Eve, trying to protect my mother’s honour”. Can you get any more heavy-handed? Ha! Okay, they’ve switched it around nicely. Madea reveals the real truth, which is that Eileen’s husband “left her for a white woman and she’s had a beef with white people ever since. They ran off and joined the circus. And now they own Glee.” Love it. That’s actually a great line. I’m quite enjoying seeing Eileen get her comeuppance after being a grade A bitch for most of this film.
1:17:25 – This is genuinely a tiny bit touching. Conner’s parents try and talk Eileen out of leaving, telling her that “the world is changing and that is a good thing. Every generation sees a little less division and a little more open minds and open hearts.” Compared to some of the other CkoA entries, this film has some big things to say and some really likable characters – even Madea herself at times.
1:22:51 – Well that was very random. Eileen is walking to town when she spots a crashed jeep with Chad inside. She drags him out and it explodes shortly afterwards. Then Conner and his dad arrive and Conner punches Chad.
1:27:37 – Hey, Chad’s returned with his wife to apologise for being a massive racist! That’s how all Christmas movies should end: with redemption and reconciliation.
Well that was certainly a mixed bag. The first half of the film was an abomination. Madea was so irritating I wanted to perforate my own eardrums and very little of the plot made much sense. Amazingly though, things came together in the second half of the film when Conner’s parents arrived and the culture clash finally got started. A Madea Christmas also earns major CKoA credit for having some strong moral messages in there rather than relying on crass humour and no plot – Grown Ups 2, I’m looking at you. Technically, it’s a comedy, so it failed miserably on that count, but the last half hour was serviceable enough.
It’s always hard to judge exactly how good films are in this feature because my expectations are so low. A Madea Christmas by no means escapes my rankings like After Earth did last time, but it’s not as unashamedly terrible as Grown Ups 2 either. To be honest, I’d rather have kept watching that play I put on by mistake at the start. Instead of watching this film, I offer a simple and fair alternative. Just watch the following clip approximately 180 times in a row and you’ll have pretty much replicated the experience of watching A Madea Christmas.
Next up we have the final film of my Razzie special. It’s The Lone Ranger! And it actually looks quite good! Hi-Ho, Silver, away!