Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas

 
(i)

 

Joyless holiday comedy tackles race and class with clichés.
  • Review Date: December 20, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's best message is that love is color blind, and that you fall in love with a person, not their entire race. But the movie also has positive messages about the importance of being honest with your parents (and vice versa), how you should never humiliate or act ashamed of the person you love, and how Christmas is both a religious and secular holiday.

Positive role models

Madea, for all her flaws, is honest and open-minded. She keeps encouraging Eileen to give Lacey space and let her live her life. She's also accepting of Lacey and Conner's marriage. Conner and his parents go out of their way to make their daughter-in-law happy. Eileen, on the other hand, is very racist and classist, as the obvious foil in the film.

Violence

Madea makes a joke about shooting someone who tells a racist joke. She's frightened after stumbling into a KKK meeting. A man is in a car accident and is saved right before his truck catches fire. A father seems borderline abusive to his son and his wife. Madea jokingly threatens to punch and kill people.

Sex

Madea makes a joke about being "horizontal" with two famous Civil Rights activists. Lacey and Conner kiss a couple of times. Buddy makes references to Kim's behind, boobs, and sex life. They are "caught" playing a game where he covers himself with a sheet and looks like a ghost in bed, but they're interrupted before anything risque happens. References to "red light district," the town whorehouse, foreskin, and lingerie.

Language

Commonly used words include "damn," "hell," and the occasional "bulls--t," as well as insults like "whore," "stupid," "liar," "tramp," and "redneck."

Consumerism

Car brands such as Land Rover, Ford, Cadillac.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Madea jokes that she used to sell trees that make you happy when you smoke them; later she asks if the farm is growing marijuana. Jokes about Viagra and family moonshine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas is a holiday comedy featuring Perry's signature character, Madea. Based on Perry's Christmas play, the movie features issues like religious versus secular celebrations of Christmas, interracial relationships in the deep South, and honesty between parents and children. Language includes "damn," "hell," "whore" and other insults, and there are several references to and jokes about sex (mentions of a whorehouse, Viagra, foreskin, role playing, etc.) and race (KKK meeting, disparaging remarks about rednecks, and the horrified way a black mother acts when her daughter reveals she's married to "the help"). As for the holiday cheer, the movie advocates for religious representations of the season and for accepting that love shouldn't see color or class.

What's the story?

Madea's (Tyler Perry) in need of a job, so her niece Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford) gets her a retail gig at a Macy's-like department store. When Eileen finds out that her daughter Lacey isn't going to visit her for Christmas, Eileen enlists Madea to accompany her to the "country" (rural Alabama) to surprise Lacey (Tika Sumpter) for the holiday. Lacey, an elementary school teacher, tries to save her adopted hometown's annual Christmas jubilee by asking her well-connected ex-boyfriend Oliver (JR Lemon) to find a sponsor. But her bigger problem is that she's married to Conner (Eric Lively), a white agricultural engineer she pretends is her "farm hand" when her mother and Aunt Madea show up unexpectedly. When Conner's parents (Larry the Cable Guy and Kathy Najimy) -- who do know about the elopement -- arrive from Louisiana, they also agree to play along for Lacey's sake. As Eileen's treatment of Conner and his folks goes from aloof to rude, Madea forces Lacey to finally stand up to her mother on Christmas.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Let's start with the good: Najimy and Larry the Cable Guy do elicit laughs as the surprisingly open-minded "country folks" who love the beautiful Lacey and can see why she's a good match for their handsome college-educated son. They might look like bigots, Perry is saying, but they're the progressive ones when it comes to the interracial relationship. Despite changing things up by having the black parent be the prejudiced one (please see Something New for a much better example of this twist on the Guess Who's Coming to Dinner trope), the issue is handled with heavy handed stereotypes and cliches. And it also makes Lacey infinitely less likable as a character, because what kind of person forces their loving, ridiculously handsome husband and his loving parents to pretend they're a paid employee and his poor parents?

Seeing Larry the Cable Guy go joke-for-joke with Tyler Perry is novel for a couple of moment, but really he and Najimy are the only ones who are consistently funny, since poor Madea has to spend most of the movie compensating for or chastising her killjoy of a niece Eileen, who is not only racist but also classist and insensitive and downright cruel. The only moment that redeems her is late in the film. Overall, this holiday installment (which includes, no lie, digital Christmas present wipes in between scenes) is one of Perry's worst executed Madea movies. There's no real joy and laughter for most of it, and at the end everything and everyone is magically happy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the pervasiveness of Christmas-themed movies and TV specials. Why do you think there are so many? How does this Madea comedy fit into the genre?

  • What do you think about the twist on the interracial relationship? Are references to interracial romance still rare?

  • Why do you think Madea movies are so popular? What are this film's messages about love and Christmas?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 13, 2013
DVD release date:November 25, 2014
Cast:Chad Michael Murray, Tika Sumpter, Tyler Perry
Director:Tyler Perry
Studio:Lionsgate
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Holidays
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual references, crude humor and language

This review of Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas was written by

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Kid, 12 years old December 15, 2013
 

This wonderful Madea holiday special is full of emotion and positive messages

This installment of Tyler Perry's Madea series is not full of that rude humor that is found in the previous movies (well, there is some of it). Instead, Madea now presents herself as a role model (kinda) with many good advice. Also, the movie deals with more emotional issues like bullying and discrimination, and there is one scene that can even make you cry. But the fact that there is a very positive message in the movie makes it a recommendation to kids. Remember, although our skin color is different, you have to look at what's inside. This movie is a MUST WATCH.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 14 years old Written bylinas101 December 14, 2013
 

not for 2+ of coarse

do my eyes decive me or does common sense seriously say on for 2 and up
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old December 13, 2013
 

Great for young adults

It tells not to be racist there are some punches one explosion fireworks and talk of beating up someone there are a lot of sex refrences of strippers hoes and sexual situations there is some language such as a** d**n bull but no s*** there is budwiser sheldon construction and some beer
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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