By Steve Vivona
I've always felt that Martin Lawrence was someone who was a worthy successor to Eddie Murphy (although Murphy's not going anywhere just yet). However many of his more successful films relied on another star to ensure success ("Bad Boys," "Nothing to Lose," "Life"). Until "Big Momma's House" Lawrence had yet to impress me with one of his solo efforts. Now it seems hes taken a page from Murphy's book and piled on the makeup to prove hes got what it takes.
"Big Momma's House" proved to be his biggest hit to date (with or without a co-star) and Lawrence proved he could inhabit the skin of another character and still be funny (although he can never eclipse Murphy in that department).
Lawrence is Malcom, an FBI agent hot on the trail of Lester, a dangerous escaped felon. His only lead is Lester's former girlfriend Sherry (Nia Long). Sherry leaves L.A. in a hurry with her son in tow when she finds out Lester is on the loose again. Malcom and his partner John (Paul Giamatti) believe Sherry may be an accomplice in Lesters crimes and tail her to Georgia where she arrives at the house of her grandmother Big Momma (Ella Mitchell).
Unbeknownst to Sherry Big Momma has left town suddenly. Malcom (apparently a master of disguise) decides to impersonate Big Momma in an attempt to get Sherry to spill anything she knows about Lester. Of course the usual complications ensue and the film turns into a sort of low-rent "Tootsie," but the laughs are sustained and consistent.
"Big Momma's House," while somewhat predictable, packs enough laughs into its breezy 98-minute running time to be effective. Lawrence is a bit toned down (thanks to the PG-13 rating) but he operates well within its constraints. Of course there's the usual sexual tension and innuendo one would expect from a situation like this. Malcom also insinuates himself into the situation so he can get to know Sherry and of course he falls in love with her.
In the last year Fox has really become a force to be reckoned with in terms of the quality of their DVD output. This disc contains a full-length audio commentary from director Raja Gosnell, deleted scenes (with optional commentary as well), outtakes, a promotional featurette, Lawrence's make-up test as Big Momma, trailers and TV spots. As usual the transfer is completely flawless with strong colors that don't bleed and no artifacting. The dolby digital sound is also impressive.