Tyler Perry and A Madea Christmas have their heart in the right place. Perry wrote, directed and stars as the titular “Mad Black Woman” in the character’s first Christmas movie that for fans of the prolific one should be a thrill. There just might not be an audience for it beyond that.
We meet Madea as she is beginning work at one of Atlanta’s leading department stores -- seen in the A Madea Christmas trailer. She is dressed as Santa Claus and none too happy about it. But, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do to get by. The job comes courtesy of her relative and friend Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford). Everyone watching the film knows that Madea will not be lasting very long at this position! But, before Madea’s holiday job goes to hilarious hell, Eileen agrees to pay Madea to accompany her to Alabama to see her daughter because “something seems fishy.”
There is all sorts of backstory set up that involves the daughter Lacey (Tika Sumpter) and her giving up high paying jobs so she can teach in a small rural school and try to make it as a farmer with her husband, who is white -- and Lacey’s mom has no idea he even exists. Yes, surprises are coming… all with Madea’s trademark commentary throughout. There’s something about a Christmas Jubilee in the small town being in jeopardy and some long dormant hostility between Lacey’s husband and the town “bully” (Chad Michael Murray).
The plot of a Madea film is not the true selling point. It is Tyler Perry as Madea. The actor-writer-director-producer, at this point, knows that character like the back of her hand that she threatens many a people with throughout the holiday film. There is some serious improv that has to have gone on with the onscreen parents of Lacey’s husband and Perry. Larry the Cable Guy and Kathy Najimy play the parts to a “T” without ever drifting into Southern stereotype. And the three comedians do their best to make funny a script that is honestly a little light on humor.
But A Madea Christmas is heartwarming and its messages are clear and hard to argue with. Our A Madea Christmas review unfortunately finds that it seems that not too much effort was put into the making of the film. Actors routinely step on each other’s lines. There are shots and camera movements that seem unnecessary and out of the blue. We know all too well what a busy man Perry is, but perhaps he could have taken a little more time with this one, rehearsed his cast more, spent more time in the editing room and allowed what is at its heart a warm holiday movie… some time to smell the poinsettias.