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Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail Movie Poster Image
Same old Madea jokes served up in yet another morality tale.
  • PG-13
  • 2009
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 21 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Although the movie's overall messages of forgiveness and taking responsibility for your own actions are positive, there's a lot of questionable behavior in the film.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Madea is vengeful to the point of craziness, and characters lie, cheat, and betray one another.


Some of the violence is cartoonish, like when Madea shoves police officers and resists arrest, or when she knocks out a burly woman in prison. But some of the other violence is disturbing, like when young prostitutes are physically abused by a pimp. Discussion of rape.


Three of the main characters are current or former prostitutes, and several "women of the night" are shown on the street picking up tricks. In one scene, a prostitute is shown in bed (bare shoulders and legs) with a man in underwear sleeping on top of her. There are also discussions about life as a prostitute. Two couples kiss and embrace, while several characters flirt -- in the case of Joe and his bawdy elderly friends, pretty raunchily. A masculine woman prisoner comes on to a fellow prisoner.


Language includes "bastard," "damn," "pimp," "hell," "t--ty," and "oh my god" used as an exclamation.


Featured brands include Apple/Mac, Coca-Cola, Schweppes Ginger Ale, and Big K-Mart.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Joe smokes marijuana on a few occasions -- as a joint and also using a bong. At a party of mostly seniors, most attendees drink beer and other cocktails. Several characters smoke cigarettes, and there are many conversations about drug addiction and rehab.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, like all of his Madea films, Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail alternates between comedy (the parts featuring the Madea character) and drama (a subplot featuring a prostitute). Violence is both comic (Madea resists arrest) and disturbing (a pimp abuses young prostitutes), and there are several sexual references -- to prostitution, prison romance, and more. Although the consumerism isn't too overt, there are many scenes of cigarette and marijuana smoke, as well as drinking. Language includes "hell," "damn," and the like.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byilikemusik23 August 13, 2009

My favorite Tyler Perry movie

This was sooooo much better than the last Madea movie! There was a lot more Madea in it and the drama plot in it was actally good. But part of the plot revolves... Continue reading
Adult Written byThomsin August 18, 2018

Major themes are Prostitution, Rape, Drugs, and living on the streets.

This was rated PG-13 and it is available on Hulu so started it with my 8 year olds. Had to turn it off. It is completely focused on a couple of prostitutes who... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byReviewer X1 October 7, 2009

"This was a fun movie about lawyers and troubled women"

There might be a few scenes starring one female character named, "Madea" But don't worry, these moments are rare and usually forgotten. Its a pow... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byebzallday16 July 25, 2009

A good movie to people who know and love Madea and Tyler Perry

Madea goes to jail was one of tyler perry's best movies it had a good storyline and tought a good lesson... as always Madea conduct is iffy for kids but th... Continue reading

What's the story?

TYLER PERRY'S MADEA GOES TO JAIL brings back the writer-director-producer's popular character Mabel "Madea" Simmons (Perry), the no-nonsense (i.e. crazy) old Atlantan grandmother you do not want to cross. After being wronged in a K-Mart parking lot, Madea -- who utters her famous catchphrase "I ain't afraid of the popo" -- wrecks a rude woman's sports car and ends up in prison. Meanwhile, assistant district attorney Josh (Derek Luke) is dealing with conflicting priorities. He should be planning his fairy-tale wedding to wealthy fiancee Lisa (Ion Overman), but when his estranged childhood friend, Candy (Keshia Knight Pulliam), is arrested for prostitution, he makes it his mission to save her from her destructive lifestyle.

Is it any good?

Madea fans are a loyal bunch, and they're unlikely to be disappointed with the latest installment in Perry's franchise. Madea continues to "get" those who "got" her and gives lip to everyone from her poor, put-upon daughter to her raunchy brother Joe (also Perry) to Dr. Phil and Judge Mathis.

But those unfamiliar with Perry's films won't be converted into fans by this broad, heavy-handed comedy. The morality-play subplot in Madea Goes to Jail is particularly ridiculous. Although Luke is a fine actor and does his best as a well-meaning, generous man, Knight Pulliam (best known as little Rudy from The Cosby Show) isn't at all believable as a streetwalker. Supporting actresses Viola Davis and Vanessa Ferlito are both good as, respectively, a minister who dedicates herself to getting women off the street and a prostitute who looks out for Candy. But the Candy-Josh-Lisa love triangle is so predictable that the outcome loses its emotional punch.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Madea Goes to Jail's message of forgiveness and personal responsibility. Does that come through amid all of the broad humor?

  • How is Madea represented? Does she have redeeming characteristics, or is she just a caricature? Do you think Madea is right that parents shouldn't be blamed for their children's failures?

  • Why do you think Tyler Perry is so popular? Have you seen his other movies? What do they have in common? Who are they targeted at, and why do they appeal to that audience? Do you like him better as his character Madea or as a "regular" actor? Why?

Movie details

For kids who love comedies

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