PLOT A rebellious teenager starts trouble when she sneaks out to a fraternity’s Halloween party.
CAST Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Diamond White
RATED PG-13 (crude humor, drug use)
BOTTOM LINE Perry’s latest comedy feels hastily churned out even by his standards.
The charismatic and multitalented Tyler Perry turns in another low-cost, low-effort comedy with “Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween.” It’s a seasonal item, like the plastic pumpkins at the supermarket: cheap, hollow and disposable.
That’s a shame, because any actor-writer capable of directing himself in three different roles should be capable of so much more. In “A Madea Halloween,” Perry returns as Madea, the hot-tempered matron with a mean right hook; as Uncle Joe, the layabout with the gray hair and blue humor; and as his own straight man, Brian, a mild-mannered lawyer. They’ve all joined forces on Halloween to prevent Brian’s rebellious daughter, Tiffany (Diamond White), from sneaking out of the house to a wild frat party.
“A Madea Halloween” feels like a rush job even by Perry’s churn-’em-out standards. Much of the movie unfolds in a living room as Joe and Madea banter with two elderly friends, the pot-smoking Bam (Cassi Davis) and the jittery Hattie (Patrice Lovely, reprising her character from Perry’s sitcom “Love Thy Neighbor”). Their rapport is appealing, but their improvised dialogue mostly just pads out the movie’s running time. Meanwhile, Tiffany drags her goody-goody friend Aday (Liza Koshy) to the frat house, raising the frightful specters of drink, drugs and sex (none of which actually materializes).
Perry’s earlier “Madea” films dependably topped the box office with a combination of raucous comedy, sudsy drama and Sunday-sermon morality. They were never well-made, but the character of Madea — an interesting mix of guardian angel and incorrigible reprobate — gave them a certain edge. “A Madea Halloween,” however, feels as square as an ABC Afterschool Special, full of finger-wagging speeches and characters so one-dimensional they barely even work as symbols. The fraternity president (Yousef Erakat) is a macho chucklehead; Tiffany’s friend (Bella Thorne) is a brainless, soulless sexpot; Tiffany herself is an eye-rolling caricature of a teenager.
Even Perry’s fans may be disappointed by the thin plot and scarce jokes in “A Madea Halloween.” That would be a good thing, because every Perry movie that turns a profit only seems to guarantee that the next one won’t be any better.