Tyler Perry misses painfully with 'Madea Goes To Jail'

Daily Arts Writer
Published March 1, 2009

“Madea Goes To Jail”
At Quality 16 and Showcase

1 out of 5 stars

Madea, that broad-shouldered, big-mouthed grandma from Georgia, is back. Again. And as always, she's the showboat in Tyler Perry's (“Meet the Browns”) latest work, “Madea Goes To Jail.” While the Madea movies may be Perry’s biggest commercial successes, this installment is still the same old Perry doing the same old thing.

There are really only two things to say about the film. First: Madea (Perry in drag) is sentenced to prison, only to preach to people about taking responsibility for their actions. Second: Joshua (Derek Luke, “Notorious”) is an attorney protecting a prostitute named Candy (Keshia Knight Pulliam, “Beauty Shop”) that he knew in college. And with these amazing plot tools of his, Tyler Perry makes a whopping $42 million on opening weekend for what may be his crappiest film to date.

A depressing drama as well as cheap comedy, “Madea” throws everything but the kitchen sink onto the screen. The film goes through manipulative depictions of sex and drug abuse, then mixes in misguided Christianity. “Meet the Browns” and “Why Did I Get Married?” were at least sincere in their sappiness.

Perry doesn’t deserve all the low ratings he musters on IMDB, but “Madea Goes to Jail” is a wreck. Positive values are just that much harder to impart when Derek Luke is bawling his eyes out and Rudy from “The Cosby Show” is playing a tangerine-haired hooker. Maybe Perry’s 43rd movie in the next 10 years will be an outstanding and all-appealing masterwork. Without Madea.