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Film Review - Madea Goes to Jail


Times are tough for Tyler Perry these days. With critical accolades in short supply and box office returns slowing to a worrisome degree, it’s time to bust out the old drag routine again to stimulate the faithful. Discounting a microscopic cameo in last year’s “Meet the Browns,” “Madea Goes to Jail” is the first time the titular Georgian hell-raiser has assumed a starring role in three years. I’ll be honest: she wasn’t missed. An unpardonably primitive, repetitive dramedy that promises a farce yet delivers the same tiresome Perry brand of spiritual and empowerment hooey, the “Jail” of the title is more apt as a metaphor for the ticket buyer’s situation than a comic location for Madea to prance around within.

When a destructive freeway chase lands smart-mouthed Madea (Tyler Perry) in court, further outbursts of verbal abuse and anger management issues send her to prison, where she finds friendship with the ladies of the cellblock (including Vanessa Ferlito and Sofia Vergara). One of these wayward souls is Candace (Keisha Knight Pulliam, the once and future Rudy Huxtable), a junkie prostitute with ties to Joshua (Derek Luke), a prominent Assistant D.A. who long ago derailed the young woman’s life and now desires to help rebuild it. The newfound attention upsets Joshua’s fiancée (Ion Overman), who uses her deceitful legal power to separate the two and return Joshua to his rightful place as a spineless husband-to-be.

While the marquee reads “Madea Goes to Jail,” the true title should be, “Madea Goes to Jail Sometime in the Third Act, So Here’s This Nonsense about a Hooker and Her Gang Rape Enabler.” In classic Perry form, “Jail” is a schizophrenic production that wishes to indulge its spastically comedic roots while dishing up some reheated melodrama that the diminishing fanbase has come to treasure. The division in tone is a stunner, with Perry trying to employ his violent Madea tomfoolery as a rodeo clown while letting topics of drug addiction, sexual abuse, and vocational deception take center stage. It’s a bit of a cheat to promise viewers one direction while clearly favoring another, but it wouldn’t be Perry if the film wasn’t outrageously irrational, flimsily edited, acted with rafter-quaking severity, and scripted with Magic Markers. I’d probably feel cheated at this point if Perry actually made a concentrated effort to maintain a steady dramatic tone.

How strange is this picture? At one point Perry asks Luke to give his all to camera, pouring his heart out as the character struggles with a painful realization of guilt. Oh, how the tears flow! And then the filmmaker cuts to a scene where Madea beats up a team of bailiffs as she’s dragged to the big house. So much for letting the nuance sink in.

“Jail” doesn’t deviate from the template set by the early Perry pictures: serving up questionable Jesus-scented messages on accepting personal responsibility for wrongful actions (a concept given 90 seconds of air before it’s oddly paved over for the traditional white knight conclusion), confusing character motivations to a point of unintentional laughter, and permitting the cast to mug for the camera until their cheekbones bleed.

Obviously Perry takes the gold medal in the overacting department, again using Madea as a vessel for his sassmouth energy and improv-heavy one-liners. With Madea beating up cops, ruining the day for nasty Caucasians everywhere, and refusing to accept psychological deconstruction (a subplot the welcomes a Dr. Phil cameo), the character is as wily as ever in “Jail,” making the divide between plots impossible to suitably bridge. It’s a shame Perry refuses to take the character anywhere new, as a little change of pace might actually push Madea into the alien arena of earned laughs, and not the semi-minstrel thin-ice pond she skates upon now.

“Madea Goes to Jail” is a softball motion picture even for Perry, who only uses the film to broaden his empire (characters/newfound sitcom stars Cora and Leroy Brown cameo), not to challenge his abilities as an actor or storyteller.





Tyler Perry must have a really huge fanbase. Everyone loves him. BET gave him a special honors at their awards show a while back, and he hosted alongside Halle Berry for the NAACP awards. And Brian Orndorf and several other rational people have the balls to expose his hacky tendencies, while we're attacked by the man's religious zealots. I hope we're not forced to enjoy Tyler Perry's films.

Look, I'll take black entertainment anytime anywhere. For example, "The Nutty Professor" was an urban film, yet it touched upon a topic that can be accepted BY ANY RACE (obesity). It still delivered belly laughs, but it never ignored audiences outside the loop.

By the way, if this guy's so popular and talented, then where's his Academy Award or Oscar? Answer that question. If the answer is no, watch one of Spike Lee's earlier work for high quality entertainment for the African American race.


Once again F-list critics knocking a comedy.

If you guys could just give yourselves room to for once laugh and remove the stick from your a**es, you would actually enjoy this movie.

Everything is not for stiff face movie goers, if this is what you are, hence your review.

He's not asking for nor do he need your support, the man have made it... If it takes you that many key stokes to show that much dislike, what was the point? Get a freaking life...

I'd love to hear a review of you in your personal time form you wife, if you even have one.

The movie will get it's support from those of us seeking a lil comedy in this these sad tough times. Comedy!!! Did you hear that. Damn, take it for what it is...


Please don't insult the comedy genre by considering this movie a comedy...


Wow it's truly amazing how people will be so quick to just shred a movie that is made to simply entertain. Yes it is a dramedy, yes it has its shortcomings, and no it's not for eveyone.

Tyler Perry and his films are highly regarded in the black/urban (or whatever politically correct term you want to choose) communty for being well written/acted. It was refreshing to see black entertainers showing the was more to our community then "hood" life. His films are light hearted and hits the right emotional tones when they're meant to be hit. Even my mom loves his movies and she can't stand the way movies now have harsh language or overly sexual.

All my freinds love the Madea character because we remember a grandmother, aunt, or someone in our neighborhood that was just like her. My wife is white and she enjoys Tyler's movies and Madea. There are just some things I find hilarious and it goes over her head. It's not cause it's not funny it's just that she can't identify with some situations. Sure Nutty Proffessor was a funny movie that spanned the color gap but it wasn't a "urban" movie. Some people just are not gonna be able to identify with things in all movies. Hell Terms of Endearment, Forest Gump or more recently Benjamin Button were hailed as cinematic masterpieces but for me growing up in a inner city was just ok. Not that there were not good bodies of work but my life experiences could not make me feel anything toward any of the character's plights. The religious undertones are apart of the black community and has been since slavery. Sorry, it is what it is.

To try to stump Mr. Perry's creative genius with "O where is his Academy Award/Oscar" is utterly stupid. Those 2 awards do not a movie or filmmaker great. If that were the case then it is greatly flawed. Don't think so? Then tell me how in the hell does 36 Mafia get an Oscar before Martin Scorcesy? The man that made The Godfather is a hack because he has no Oscar for it or most of his other movies.

Spike Lee is not that great either because if you haven't noticed in all his movies its the white man's fault. That's why I personally don't get to high on Spike Lee's joints.

To sum it up all movies are not for all people. Like for some rap is crap and rock is a crock.


I am extremely tired of Tyler Perry nutsack hangers personally attacking anyone who dares speak about the joke that is Tyler Perry. Even people who try to give constructive criticism are called haters. Why did BET/NAACP (Pseudo Pro-Black Organizations) give "Make Me Feel Good and Pump Me In My Ass" Halle Berry and Lipstick Fake Christian In The Closet Coon Tyler Perry their own award show? Um.... you just answered your own question. It's BET, people! The people who are hellbent on destroying the respect of black people everywhere through their garbage and stereotypical programming. These people have so much love for a man that wouldn't even speak to them if they spoke to him in public, but when his movie or shitty TV shows come out, he wants to send all personable e-mails manipulating people to support him with his bible garbage. I seen the arrogance and disrespect of Tyler Perry to his fans first hand. Tyler Perry stans need to accept the fact that everyone does not worship Tyler Perry. Some people are actually repulsed by him. I am one of them. and yes, I am black.


I think you should write for if you haven't already. I laughed at the cleverness of this article and the adjectives used (i.e. Jesus-scented messages) Great review! Don't mind the people who bashed your review. You can't think Tyler Perry is a comedy genius and enjoy real comedy genius at the same time.


Couldn't agree with you more, TiredofTylerPerryStans. Yet I find Halle Berry a stronger performer than Tyler Perry. She did "X-Men", 'nuff said.


Tyler I love you but this movie sucks


Wow @ all you key stroking fools. It is what it is. It's okay that you dislike Tyler Perry and what he's doing, that's fine by me. Hell ppl just like you disliked Jesus and what He did/stood for. No biggie. If Mr. Perry reads the garbage ppl write about him, I'm quite sure that, at the end of the day, he does not miss any sleep over this mediocrity that a bunch of nobody's sit behind a computer screen and type. Not that serious. Quit making a mountain out of a mole hill. Why not fight for things worth fighting for? There are countless things to argue over, fight for, etc... But no, you chose to be held hostage by ignorance and mediocrity. Quit key stroking this man, get a life. This man is successful in his own right, in fact, he is successful, period, point blank. It is what it is. If the covenant between Mr. Perry and God is and remains intact, then there is nothing more to say about his work. Being a successful writer, actor, etc.. is NOT predicated upon whether or not one wins an Oscar. Let's be clear, every year, you same nay sayers watch the Oscars, and at the end of the show you express your unbelief about the fact that so and so won an Oscar and so and so wsan't even nominated. You're all a bunch of hypocritical, egotistical, self righteous jerks. Yeah, I said it. What are you going to do? Key stroke me? Get over yourselves real quick. Geesh. What's more is the fact that enough ppl resonate with what Mr. Perry talks about in his plays/movies. He's taking on real life issues and struggles, and guess what, if you haven't been there, lived that thing, struggled with that thing, etc.. then you probably don't care much for it. Good for you, but what about those ppl that actually battle these things on a daily. And no, it's not just black folk either. Surprised much? True enough, a lot of his work is geared towards African Americans, but it's also out there for the taking, if you're interested, grab hold of it, if not, simply keep it moving. Simple as that. It's so easy to attack, mock, or down play someone when they are doing something that A) you don't understand B) you don't approve, or C) you just don't like it. But to actually be happy that yet another American (or any nationality for that matter) actually made something of themselves, actually put in the work to better his/her future, that has pulled themselves up by their own shoe strings, and vowed to never live in mediocrity again is not so easy to do. This is why ppl like you will never be abundantly blessed. If we spent a little more time encouraging one another, being there for one another, and loving one another, then we'd all be a bit more happier in our own lives and won't have to resort to getting on the internet to write such horrid things about the ones that have made it, contiune to make it, AND pave the way for the next generation to make it. Change only starts within ones own self. Tyler Perry changed his entire life for the better, praise God. Yet you belittle this man as if his work, actions, hard work, and dedication speak not for itself. You disgust me. I know this is long, but you jerks really disgust me. Get a life, you don't like him, so what, he doesn't care. He's still doing what he has to do to make an honest living. Good day!

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