IN THE '90s, there was a shift when Eddie Murphy went from being one of the most exciting faces of American comedy to putting out some serious minstrel-show bullshit. Ever Murphy's dim reflection, Martin Lawrence steered his career into the same ditch circa 2000, going from one of the more tolerable faces of American comedy to playing Big Momma. As an FBI agent forced to disguise himself as an old woman, Big Momma is both a walking "Mammy" archetype and a buffoon—Lawrence bugs his eyes, falls on his ass, and lusts after women left and right. It's the kind of character that America in the year 2000 was ready to embrace, apparently, and Big Momma's House was a huge success—allowing its creators to move on to more personal projects they were really excited about, like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Black Knight.
Eleven years later, we have the series' third installment, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son. Helmed by the director of Malibu's Most Wanted, BM:LFLS is a lazy, insulting turd, and everyone involved seems to know it. Lawrence has never looked so sheepish as he breaks tables by falling on them ('cause Big Momma's fat!) and spouts lines like, "I grew up so poor we used to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and lick other people's fingers!" Brandon T. Jackson matches Lawrence in energy in the thankless role of his son, who also dresses in drag for stupid reasons.
This time, those stupid reasons are only barely there, but it all has something to do with Lawrence being unable to connect with his son because he's all old-school and his kid's all hiphop. (It's a testament to this film's laziness that the only scene it can conjure where Lawrence isn't ragging on Jackson for wanting to skip college to be a rapper is one in which the duo dances and raps to the Temptations' "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone.") Anyway, Lawrence and Jackson disguise themselves as women for some reason, and then decide to hide out in—*record scratch*—an all-girls school! Hijinks can only ensue!
Except they don't. BM:LFLS doesn't even bother with jokes, merely stealing set-pieces from Mrs. Doubtfire, The Naked Gun, and Sorority Boys, hoping in vain that the hilarity will take care of itself. In fact, BM:LFLS doesn't even seem sure that it wants to be a comedy, often switching gears to be a limp romance, a dull action flick, or a Fame-style musical. Naturally, it all ends in a faux-heartfelt moment where Big Momma and his son put their differences aside and finally connect—driving off together to lead lives that will, hopefully, never merit a Big Momma's House 4.