Fans of Perry's long-running Madea series will be happy to know that his alter ego acquits herself nobly in what may be her final outing. Madea visits a new branch of the family this time, but a few of her loved ones follow, most notably the retirement home Greek chorus Auntie Bam (Cassi Davis), Hattie (Patrice Lovely), and Joe. Half the movie is just an excuse to get these four sitting together and talking -- and they're so funny that you won't mind. Like most Perry/Madea movies, Funeral is a straightforward morality tale: A cheating husband dies in the midst of a hotel room hookup, while his son and his other son's fiancee are coincidentally doing their own illicit thing in the room next door. For the rest of the movie, Madea, Hattie, Bam, and Joe are trying to keep a lid on this information, all while telling what they know while younger characters dismiss them as doddering old fools.
The story's dueling sex scandals play out in a series of comic setpieces: Madea's son Brian (also played by Perry) gets pulled over by an angry white cop while the senior quartet urges him to take off. Madea throws an eight-hour funeral. An anniversary party goes wrong. It's all very silly, but Madea is a scream, alternately throwing out wisdom about how black folks do things, doling out homilies about grief, and getting off some ripping insults. For instance, when her brother Heathrow (a new character who's a double amputee in a wheelchair with a Jheri curl and an electrolarynx he uses to talk) expresses concern about his one remaining top tooth after being hit in the face, she says: "I get him some corn, he'll just do the one row." The comedy is a little dirty at times -- there's lots of leering at female characters' backsides and plenty of jokes about pimps and hos, as well as weed -- but ultimately Madea and company are sweet and get the ending they deserve. There are lots of worse ways to say goodbye than this funny film.