Big Momma's House Review

May 25, 2001 | 7:53am EDT

Martin Lawrence is large and in charge in this extended one-joke skit about FBI agent Malcolm Turner undercover to catch a murderous bank robber. While disguised as a cranky colossal grandmother Turner tries to squeeze information out of the crook's ex-flame and finds himself falling for the babe played by Nia Long. Lawrence gets a workout here since the film is really just a shell designed to showcase his comedic talents. The comedian is put through the paces and gives Tom Cruise a run for his money in the film’s opening scene undercover as a aged karate-chopping Asian man. (Maybe the film should have been called Martin: Impossible!) His real challenges come decked out and weighed down in blubbery drag as he dances shoots hoops and takes over a self-defense class only occasionally looking stiff in the masses of makeup. Unfortunately so many of Lawrence’s chunky cross-dressing gags bring only a few stray giggles since they’ve been done to death in films such as Mrs. Doubtfire and The Nutty Professor. Long and others are capable but this is Martin's show. Had Raja Gosnell (Never Been Kissed) been more comedy conscious this film could have been more than a floundering collection of gags. Gosnell like too many directors today falls into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. Instead of concentrating on creating a focused and funny comedy he crams together plenty of romance and police action then wraps it up in warm fuzzy messages. Once the novelty of Lawrence in a humongous housecoat wears off we're left with a massive mess.

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