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With its PG-13 rating, BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE ($27) shows comedian Martin Lawrence taking another stride towards reaching for a broader demographic. While there is some semi-racy humor in BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE, it’s obvious the teen dollars at the multiplex is what this comedy was aiming for. I don’t want to make it seem that BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE isn’t funny- the fact of the matter is that some of the scenes are down right hilarious. Heck, I was laughing out loud a number of times. However, BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE is somewhat tamer than Lawrence’s earlier movie efforts.

In BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE, Martin Lawrence portrays FBI Agent Malcolm Turner, who has a penchant for going undercover in elaborate disguises. Malcolm ‘s latest case puts him on the tail of a dangerous bank robber, who has just escaped from prison. Since the con’s ex-girlfriend Sherry (Nia Long) is Malcolm ‘s best chance of catching this violent criminal and recovering the stolen back money, he focuses his attention on her. However, as soon as Sherry hears that her murdering ex has broken out of prison, she takes her son Trent (Jascha Washington) and heads for her Grandmother’s home in Georgia. Malcolm and his partner John (Paul Giamatti) play a hunch and also head for Georgia, where they set up a stakeout across the street from Big Momma’s House. Unfortunately, before Sherry and Trent arrive in Georgia, Big Momma (Ella Mitchell) is called away to care for a sick friend. Not wanting to miss his opportunity to keep Sherry under surveillance, Malcolm disguises himself as Big Momma. Since Sherry hasn’t seen her grandmother in a number of years, he is able to pull off the masquerade. However, Malcolm runs into complications when dealing with Big Momma’s friends, neighbors and amorous boyfriend. As I said above, BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE has moments of genuine hilarity. However, when the movie presents a kinder, gentler Martin Lawrence, the humor begins to fall a little flat. Still, the movie is entertaining and moves along at a brisk pace. The cast of BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE also includes Terrence Dashon Howard. Anthony Anderson, Carl Wright, Phyllis Applegate, Starletta DuPois, Jessie Mae Holmes, Nicole Prescott, Octavia Spencer, Tichina Arnold and Cedric the Entertainer.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has done a great job with their DVD edition of BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE. BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE is framed at 1.85:1 and the 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentation is THX certified. Image quality is absolutely first rate, with everything appearing razor sharp and richly detailed. The element used for the transfer is nearly perfect, with a bit of mild film grain being the only negative in the equation. Colors are strongly saturated, without ever appearing artificial. There are no signs of chromatic distortion, nor do the most vibrant hues ever threaten to bleed beyond their boundaries. Black are very accurate and the level of shadow detail is also quite good. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed throughout. The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack features a standard comedy mix, which is pleasant to listen to, doesn’t take full advantage of the discrete capabilities of the format. Dialogue is natural sounding and the jokes are always completely understandable. Frequency response is very good, so the music never sounds harsh or compressed. The bass channel primarily serves to augment the music; however it is full and deep. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound have been applied to the interface of the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice array of supplements. Director Raja Gosnell and producer David Friendly are featured on an informative and mildly entertaining audio commentary. Building Big Momma’s House is a 25 minutes featurette that includes a look behind-the-scenes, as well as interviews with the cast and crew. The section of the featurette that looks at Martin Lawrence’s Big Momma makeup proves to be most interesting portion of this PR piece. The DVD also includes a makeup test designed to gage the believability of Martin Lawrence under the Big Momma makeup. Lawrence adlibs his way though the test, and this short little scene turns out to be pretty funny. Two deleted scenes are included on the DVD, with both offering the option of director’s commentary. There are two music videos on the DVD, the first is Bounce with Me by Lil’ Bow Wow and the second is I’ve Got to Have It by Jermaine Dupri featuring Nas and Monica. A theatrical trailer for BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE, plus a bonus trailer and TV spots close out the DVD’s supplements.

BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE is a fun movie, as well as being a great looking DVD with solid supplements. Fox has definitely produced another great disc, which makes it worth spending a little time over at BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE.


 Big Momma's House


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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