The characters of Tyler Perry's Madea universe have endeared audiences over the course of 10 films, and it seems like the comedian has managed to stretch the boundaries of their ridiculousness with each passing movie. However, with his latest take on the spookiest of holidays, it has become abundantly clear that they may have reached their limit. Written, directed, produced, and acted three times over by Perry himself, Boo 2! A Madea Halloween is a profoundly miserable low point for the Madea franchise as a whole.
Taking place one year after the events of the first Madea-inspired Halloween adventure (there's a surprising amount of continuity shared between the two films), Boo 2! A Madea Halloween opens on Brian (Tyler Perry) trying to hold onto Tiffany's (Diamond White) childhood on Halloween/her 18th birthday. However, Brian's ability to keep Tiffany safe and sheltered gets called into question when his ex-wife Deborah (Taja V. Simpson) gives Tiffany the car she has always wanted and lets her go to a Halloween-themed frat party at the supposedly haunted Lake Derrick. Meanwhile, Madea (Perry), Joe (also Perry), Hattie (Patrice Lovely), and Bam (Cassi Davis) find themselves taken for a scary ride when they see themselves lost on the very same back roads that lead to the ill-fated party.
Right off the bat, it's worth mentioning that Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween feels less like a movie and more like a series of insulated skits centered on a spooky motif. The entire first act of the movie is basically just one or two scenes to set the stage for the main party, and once the sun goes down and the festivities begin, it's just a series of cutting back and forth between the Simmons family driving on the back road and mysterious slasher escapades that take place around our younger characters. There's a shocking lack of forward momentum to drive Boo 2!'s story forward, and when the film finally comes to its fairly predictable conclusion, the personal realizations made by these characters don't ring even remotely true.
Again, I really cannot stress enough just how bonkers this movie is on a structural level. At one point, Perry even puts the entire film on pause for a pseudo music video segment in which Rae Sremmurd "Black Beatles" plays almost in its entirety.
That said, I understand that reviewing a comedy comes with its own share of pitfalls. Humor often doesn't translate well from person to person, so you're mileage may vary with how much Boo 2! A Madea Halloween makes you laugh. However, how unfunny this film indeed is seems nothing short of shocking. From Joe's constant (and creepy) advances on younger female characters, to the goofy and cartoonish faces of the frat boys as they ogle the young women at the party, to Madea running while screaming "help me, Jesus" after supposedly seeing a demon child, all of the humor operates on the most base level. Pretty much nothing in Tyler Perry's world gets approached with a sense of subtlety or nuance, and the result is one of the most immature and rushed broad comedies in recent memory.
That problem feels entirely exacerbated by the fact that there are basically no characters in the movie that feel like living, breathing human beings. Aside from Brian (who doesn't get much scream time due to Perry's commitments elsewhere in the film), everyone is a stereotype or a screaming caricature. From Madea's constant reminiscing about turning tricks to pay for her first car to the (unreasonably creepy) sexual advances of the 20-something college guys, almost every single character who inhabits this film is continuously gearing up for the next bad joke, and it seldom works.
Remember, even the Jump Street and Neighbors franchises had the foresight to give their frat boy characters some semblances of humanity. Without a genuine emotional throughline to carry any of these individuals through the story, Boo 2! A Madea Halloween pretty much just devolves into a series of scenes in which people we don't care about run around screaming.
Oddly enough, the funniest aspect of Boo 2! A Madea Halloween has seemingly nothing to do with the performances, the writing, or the overall direction. It's the unreasonably poor ADR work that got the biggest laughs out of me. At several points throughout the film, Madea very clearly uses foul language, but the word that comes out of her mouth often doesn't match the movement of her lips. Tyler Perry recently told CinemaBlend that he had to cut quite a bit of language from the film to attain its PG-13 rating, the overdubbing to remove some of the less savory swears delivers some legitimately hilarious moments. At least we got something out of this, right?
Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween is a plodding mess of a movie. Neither funny nor scary, its structural incoherency and lack of relatable characters make it nearly unwatchable. This is the tenth installment in Madea's long run of silver screen adventures, and the shtick has definitely begun to wear thin.