Big Momma's House 2
Martin Lawrence as Big Momma
Malcolm/Big Momma: Martin Lawrence
Sherri: Nia Long
Leah Fuller: Emily Procter
Kevin: Zachary Levi
Tom Fuller: Mark Moses
Molly: Kat Dennings
Carrie: Chloe Grace Moretz
Liliana Morales: Marisol Nichols
Stewart: Josh Flitter
Crawford: Dan Lauria
Trent: Jascha Washington
Andrew: Preston Shores, Trevor Shores
Constance: Sarah Joy Brown
Bottom line: All fat, no substance.
If state-of-the-art cross-gender fat suits and drunken Chihuahuas were the stuff of comic genius, "Big Momma's House 2" still wouldn't be very funny. But as few and far between as the laughs are, this follow-up to the 2000 comedy -- painted in the same broad, no-thinking-required strokes -- is likely to score the same solid business.
Greg Cannom's makeup effects again take center stage, and Martin Lawrence is game as the FBI agent who goes undercover as a very large grandmother. It's the Chihuahua, though, that delivers one of the more committed performances, no doubt because he hadn't read the script.
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After saving Nia Long from the formidable Terrence Howard in the first film, agent Malcolm Turner here merely has to save America from techno-terrorists. He has married Sherri (Long) and traded in his field agent responsibilities for a PR desk job, making local school appearances as a "safety eagle," much to the embarrassment of his stepson (Jascha Washington). But after learning that his first partner has been killed while working on a computer-worm case, Malcolm dons the Big Momma costume and goes undercover without telling the agency or his 8 1/2-months-pregnant wife.
To get to the suspected designer of that worm, which would give its dastardly users access to the U.S. government's intelligence network (assuming the old-school Luddites have created one by now), Big Momma gets herself hired as nanny to the family of an Orange County software exec (Mark Moses). Don Rhymer's screenplay takes some deserved, if obvious, jabs at the new-millennial brand of parenting that churns out overachieving competitors rather than children. But while Emily Procter fits the bill as an activity-obsessed mom, painfully unfunny slapstick takes precedence over would-be satire.
Under the helm of John Whitesell, a veteran of episodic television whose big-screen credits include "Calendar Girl" and "Malibu's Most Wanted," the story unspools with a decided lack of comic energy, wending its way toward the tepid better-parenting message that has plagued more than a few comedies in recent years. Amid some of the lamest FBI maneuvers ever seen, the warmed-over "Mrs. Doubtfire" premise has our hero discovering his maternal instinct while saving the Western world, reconnecting poor little rich kids with their distracted parents, putting the booty in the moves of a clueless white girls' cheerleading squad and helping the grieving family dog find his bliss.
Lawrence has the devilish schoolboy look that makes you wish he'd cut loose more, but the film doesn't embrace the downright ludicrousness of the scenario until the climactic collision with the villains. And then it promptly goes all mushy. Josh Flitter, who made an impression as the mouthy pint-size caddie in "The Greatest Game Ever Played" and who appears to be channeling Jack E. Leonard, injects some oomph as a hacker extraordinaire who helps the hapless FBI agents. Design and other production contributions serve the story in straight-ahead fashion.
*By By Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
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