Tyler Perry has been writing, directing, producing, and starring in movies about his Madea character for over ten years now. So how is it that this movie is so incompetently made? If this were a first-time filmmaker, I could maybe chalk the film’s painfulness up to inexperience or a lack of resources. But as this is Perry’s 17th directorial effort, and these movies do well enough that he can easily arrange financing, I don’t feel unreasonable in saying that “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” is simply the work of a hack.
As with the first “Boo!” the story sees spoiled teenager Tiffany (Diamond White) defying her father Brian (Perry) and sneaking off to a frat party on Halloween. The party is taking place at a remote lake where young people were killed a few decades earlier, so Tiffany might be in danger. Brian’s Aunt Madea (also Perry) feels the need to come to the rescue, and she drags along her brother Joe (Perry again) and friends Hattie (Patrice Lovely) and Bam (Cassi Davis). Trouble is indeed afoot, because partygoers are being picked off by a pair of masked figures. Could the murderers from all those years ago be back to finish what they started?
I’ll get the obvious complaint out of the way first: the movie isn’t funny. As always, it’s crass humor supposedly made funnier by the grossest jokes being delivered by old people, one in drag. Jokes have their punchlines explained and repeated to diminishing returns, as if Perry thinks the reason we didn’t laugh is that we didn’t understand them. Actually, odds are that they weren’t very well-enunciated, but coherence would not greatly improve this material.
Even worse than Madea and her comedic antics is the dysfunctional relationship between Tiffany, Brian, and his ex-wife Debrah (Taja V. Simpson). The idea is that Brian is too strict and Debrah is too lenient and they need to learn to cooperate. The problem is that the movie keeps making Brian 100% right on every issue, turning Debrah into an unfit and worthless parent. Example: a big point of contention is that Debrah buys Tiffany a car for her birthday, and Brian is peeved that Tiffany hasn’t done anything to earn the car or prove that she’s a responsible driver. Forget the whole “earn vs. gift” debate, it’s rendered entirely moot by Tiffany’s irresponsible driving. She doesn’t have a license, she drives like a maniac, and she’s going to get somebody killed, possibly herself. She flat-out should not have her own car and there is no room for compromise on the matter. It’s the same thing with letting high-schooler Tiffany go to the frat party. Zero good can come of it, Debrah is wholly wrong in letting her go, and the message of parental cooperation is lost because one side must be completely discounted for Tiffany’s own good.
Here’s a speed round of other problems I have with “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween”: Debrah’s new husband has a petty tendency to not acknowledge Brian when he’s around him, as if any adult would respect such childishness. Tiffany and the frat boys clearly learned nothing from the traumatizing ending of the last movie. Perry’s idea of a Christian message is for this movie to have a minor character with a “holier than thou” attitude. Profanity is distractingly dubbed-over as if you’re watching a TV edit. There are a ton of inconstancies and impossibilities regarding what’s going on with the disappearing college kids at the lake. And too many more to mention. I laughed exactly once at Joe’s cowardice and otherwise found this movie to be consistently unpleasant and infuriating. It gets the lowest grade I’ve given in nearly five years.
“Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” is rated PG-13 for sexual references, drug content, language and some horror images. Its running time is 101 minutes.
Robert R. Garver is a graduate of the Cinema Studies program at New York University. His weekly movie reviews have been published since 2006.