A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family is a dramedy very similar to its predecessors, with lots of family dysfunction and some fairly adult themes amid the jokes -- including questions about paternity, drug abuse, and drug dealing, marital woes, and references to rape. There’s a fair amount of swearing, though no F-bombs, and one character loves to smoke weed. Nevertheless, there are also a lot of discussions about faith, forgiveness, and the importance of family.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In TYLER PERRY'S MADEA'S BIG HAPPY FAMILY, Madea’s (Tyler Perry) niece, Shirley (Loretta Devine), needs her help. Her cancer is back, and the prognosis isn’t good. Shirley would like to tell her children the news over dinner, but they all seem embroiled in their own personal dramas. Shirley's youngest, Byron (Shad ''Bow Wow" Moss), is trying to steer clear of drug dealing and make a go of it with a legit job, but his son’s mother (Teyana Taylor) and his girlfriend (Lauren London) are both hassling him to make more money. Shirley's daughter Tammy (Natalie Desselle Reid) can’t stop haranguing her husband (Rodney Perry) even as they let their sons run amok. And Shirley's other daughter, Kimberly (Shannon Kane), a perpetually frustrated real estate broker, won’t make time for her husband, her son, or the rest of her family. Madea to the rescue!
Is it any good?
You've seen it all in other Perry movies: juvenile jokes, marital woes, family strife, uplifting singing, and the pushy, bombastic, and sometimes wonderful Madea. Refreshing and surprising this movie is not, so if innovation and vision are what you’re looking for, you’ll have to move on. What's more, feminists may be taken aback by the shrewish portrayal of most of the women, and how their deference toward their husbands is not-so-subtly advised as the key to marital bliss.
Madea's Big Happy Family feels a bit schizophrenic: Serious issues are fodder for jokes, while funny moments suddenly take a dramatic turn. Still, there’s something appealing about Perry’s freewheeling style. Anything can happen, and anything does happen: cancer, skeletons in closets, drug deals, Maury Povich leading paternity fights, a rousing church service. For Madea fans, it's just another day at the movies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the messages about family in Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family. What does family mean to you? What faults can you accept among family members? Which are harder to go along with?
What is the film saying about the role of faith in helping people face hardships?
Does the movie reinforce or undermine any stereotypes?
- In theaters: April 22, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: August 30, 2011
- Cast: Bow Wow, David Mann, Loretta Devine, Tyler Perry
- Director: Tyler Perry
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: drug content, language and some mature thematic material
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love drama and comedy
Top advice and articles
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.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch