It’s funny how an FBI agent goes under the guise of a fat woman (or more precisely, a Big Momma) and uses it as his modus operandi during the bigger missions. The second time doing so was inconsequential and by the end of the unendurable, unnecessary stay in Big Momma’s House 2, he gave the family a farewell letter which made the dreadful debacle even worse by the promise contained in it – “Keep a lookout. You never know when Big Momma might be back.” And so Big Momma is back, but this time the subject is pluralized.
Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son is exactly what the title says. Brandon T. Jackson (Alpa Chino from Tropic Thunder), superseding Jascha Washington as the teenage stepson Trent, goes undercover with Malcolm (Martin Lawrence) as Charmaine Daisy Pierce, Big Momma’s great niece, to solve a murder. The film, as well as following up, reboots the series by initiating Trent as the lead character; opting to appeal to a teenage audience instead of a mature or family-friendly one like its predecessors did. Trent dominates on-screen time, giving some room for new jokes (note, I didn’t say good) and character development (even though it isn’t used wisely), seeing as Malcolm/Big Momma is at it for the third time and his/her antics are all but predictable.
Unable to adapt to a lady without having sexual desires, this state of affairs sets up the film’s biggest subplot that has Trent dating school colleague Haley (Jessica Lucas) while also befriending her as Charmaine (a lot like Malcolm and Sherry in the first film). Over the course of the film (more so when the ruse is up), Trent develops from conceited rapper to a more mature man comprehending and appreciating women in a greater manner. The side of Trent that isn’t established as well as it should have been is his goal of becoming a rapper. The fact that Trent doesn’t exhibit the commitment to achieve his aspirations, nor does he put up a fight to prevent himself from dressing up as a girl leads me to believe this background was chosen to quickly import his character into the story and give this movie’s demographic something to connect with. Surely a better way could have been developed to bring father and son together (Trent needs Malcolm’s signature to make a pending record contract official).
If credit is due for anything in this film, it belongs to Kurtis Kool, played by Faizon Love (video game buffs must remember Sweet from GTA: San Andreas whom Love voiced). He is by far the most entertaining character in the film, and the only one whose comedy doesn’t fizzle on delivery (even if it’s just in the way he says “Momma said knock you out!”). His crazy crush on Big Momma makes for a hilarious little plot tangent that is perhaps the best bit of the film, ranging from his funny feelings for her to an amusing game of Twister between the two.
I suppose the wardrobe/make-up teams deserve a mention too. They pulled and used every trick in the book to create Big Momma and Charmaine even though Brandon T. Jackson is literally indistinguishable from his female alter ego. It’s ludicrous too, that the father and son manage to dress and undress as their other half with an outrageous amount of fully body prosthetics in a terribly short amount of time when they’re on the run. Often it could be wondered, are they undercover FBI agents or lame superheroes?
The third time is an unlucky charm for Martin Lawrence as the portly, old lady. The first, Big Momma’s House, was merely decent, the second went down like a lead balloon and this installment definitely shows signs of and merits a universal panning. With no new direction (John Whitesell returned to direct) and a messy seen it before screenplay, Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son deserves this unbecoming fate. (Frighteningly enough, judging from the financial success of the first two, there is good chance this film will do better than it should. Let’s hope I’m wrong).