Tyler Perry once again dons multiple costumes to incarnate several characters, most prominently Madea, the no-nonsense but mischievous matriarch of a very fractious family. She is ordered by the court to take in a runaway as a foster child, and that project of reclamation joins that of helping out her nieces. They have a mother from hell. One sister is struggling to learn how to love again, while the other is being forced into marriage with the hideously abusive Blair Underwood.
I hope that outline makes the plot sound as bizarrely split as it really is. This feels like two completely different movies yoked together with violence. On the one hand, you have Perry mugging it up as Madea and her husband, dispensing pithy aphorisms and grits in what passes for comedy. On the other, you have the saga of the nieces, which involves horrific abuse both mental and physical, and builds to emotional climaxes so over the top we’re in Southern Gothic territory. And then the slapstick re-enters the picture for a dangerously simplistic solution to at least one real problem. This is a picture as smug in its own morality as it is confused in its tone.
Madea’s Family Reunion is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 25-30 mbps. Very nice effort here, as well. The colors are strong without being strident, with superb blacks and flesh tones. There is no grain, and edge enhancement is not a problem, either. Contrasts are excellent. The overall result is vibrant yet naturalistic. So there will be nothing at all to distract you from the bizarre qualities of the script.
There’s a DTS-HD Master Audio track. Nothing to complain about at this end. The film’s score (by Perry of course, who not only stars all over the place, but also wrote, directed, produced, and presumably catered as well) has an excellent mix, with a nice bass and fine surround. The environmental effects are very good too, strong enough to be enveloping, but sufficiently low-key so as to not be distracting. The dialog is distortion-free.
Perry’s commentary is not uninformative, but does lean rather toward the gee-everyone-was-great type of exercise. The usual sort of making-of featurette is joined by three others: “Marriage Madea Style,” “Making the Music,” and “Gaither Plantation.” These are basically more of the same: promo material that is a bit more narrowly focused. The last of these is the more interesting of the two, as it deals with how the production handled the fact that the location for the family reunion was a former plantation. There’s a feature on bringing the play to the screen. Also find an interesting piece on transforming Tyler into Madea. There are also deleted scenes and trailers. It’s all in Standard Definition.
Not my cup of tea, but if you want your Big Dame Mama Edna Madea antics mixed in with intense soap opera, knock yourself out.