A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Big Momma's House is a comedy in which Martin Lawrence plays an FBI agent who goes undercover as a large grandmother. Some sexual situations include a scene in which the FBI agent disguised as "Big Momma" is in bed next to the woman he's trying to protect; the woman feels his erection and asks what she's feeling. He tells her it's a flashlight. There's some profanity, including "s--t" and a reference to female genitalia. Brief comic nudity includes Big Momma's naked rear end. Some gross-out humor involves the FBI agent hiding in a shower while Big Momma sits on the toilet defecating. The movie has some gun violence (a character gets shot and injured) and some comic violence: Big Momma throws around an arrogant self-defense instructor.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE, FBI agents Malcolm (Martin Lawrence) and John (Paul Giamatti) are trying to track down escaped prisoner Lester (Terrence Howard). They set up a stakeout across the street from the home of Big Momma, the grandmother of Lester's former girlfriend Sherry (Nia Long). Sherry arrives just as Big Momma leaves town, so Malcolm, a master of disguise, puts on a fat suit and a flowered house dress and is there to greet Sherry and her son, Trent, with open arms.
Is it any good?
The film premise is promising, but instead of a script, we get a series of situations, strung together in a lackluster story that underuses its three talented stars. Big Momma has to deliver a baby! Big Momma kicks butt at karate and basketball! Sherry gets scared and crawls into bed with Big Momma! Oh, and by the way, Malcolm has to struggle with his feelings for Sherry because he thinks she was Lester's accomplice and besides, he starts off the movie explaining that a wife and family are just a distraction for a lawman.
Co-producer Lawrence is marvelous at times, using his eyes and body to hilarious effect, and showing a potential for tenderness and heart so enticing that we wish for more. Nia Long has sweetness, toughness, and humor, and it's always a pleasure to see talented character actor Paul Giamatti. But the script is very weak, relying heavily on bathroom humor, jokes about sexy old people, and Momma's highly ungrandmotherly feelings for Sherry. Inconsistencies of plot and character keep the audience from connecting to the material.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stories centered on characters dressed in disguise. Stories like these are as old as Shakespeare. How does this movie mine comedy out of having a male FBI agent in disguise as the grandmother of an attractive woman?
How did the movie use exaggeration for humorous effect? Was the exaggeration ever too much?
How did the movie use sexual situations and slapstick violence for the sake of comedy?
- In theaters: June 2, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: March 6, 2001
- Cast: Ella Mitchell, Martin Lawrence, Nia Long
- Director: Raja Gosnell
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: gross humor, language, sexual references
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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