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Martin Lawrence once made a movie entitled What’s The Worst Thing That Could Happen? These days that’s the question on the tip of my brain every time I walk into one of his movies, and I’m always surprised at the answer. Just once I wish the surprise would be a pleasant one.

Don’t get me wrong, Martin Lawrence can be an entertaining guy, especially when he’s teamed up with some other funny personality (so long as it isn’t Luke Wilson). Somehow though, when he strikes out on his own he always manages to get caught up in the lamest of projects. Big Momma’s House 2 is no exception and may actually be one of the largest pieces of shamelessly ripped-off drivel Lawrence has put forth yet.

Special Agent Malcolm Turner’s life has been completely turned upside down by his new wife (you may remember her as the woman he rescued/fell in love with in the first Big Momma film). At the behest of his worried and very pregnant wife, he has resigned his dangerous position as a field agent in favor of an FBI desk job where he routinely dresses up in an eagle costume to teach kids about national safety. When his first ever FBI partner is killed in the line of duty Malcolm takes the chance to get revenge and jumps back into action by going undercover as Big Momma to bring down the men behind his partner’s slaying.

This time Big Momma’s job is nannying for the world’s whitest Californian family. The movie quickly descends into the Orange County version of Mrs. Doutbtfire except everything that made Doubtfire endearing has been transformed into the mundanely creepy. For example, instead of enjoying an outing in the park playing soccer, Big Momma puts on a bathing suit three sizes too small and treats the kids to a trip to the beach. As if the disturbingly realistic fat suit squeezed into far too little spandex weren’t bad enough, the kids are witness to the bizarre display likened too an audition for “Bay Watch” (complete with slow motion and close ups in all the wrong places). It feels as though the screenwriters came up with a list of preposterous situations (Big Momma at the beach…Big Momma in thong underwear…Big Momma on a Ski-Doo) and then tried to wrap a plot around it. The results are disastrous.

The movie is horribly trapped between the PG-13 action comedy genre of the first Big Momma movie and the PG world where everything has to have a pleasant family feel. There’s nothing wrong with either of those options on their own and the movie might have worked well enough had the writers picked one or the other. Alas, the two crammed together works about as well as the guys from “Queer Eye” remodeling the Neo-Nazi national headquarters. Blowing way past awkward, the storyline and action sequences are so ridiculous and painful to watch that what little humor the movie actually has to offer is lost in a sea of unfunny absurdity. Opting for a bunch of dumb crudities that have no place in a movie so steeped in wannabe family values, the movie earns a PG-13 rating, the final nail in a coffin not large enough to hold Big Momma’s tired latex carcass.

As accidental nanny movies go, Big Momma’s House 2 isn’t quite as bad as last year’s The Pacifier although it seems to be trying really hard to get there. To his credit, Lawrence avoids being upstaged by the token pet character. In this case the family mascot is a depressed Chihuahua named Pancho who recently lost his furry little mate to a mysterious backyard wood-chipper accident. Big Momma solves the little dog’s woes by filling his water dish with enough Tequila to send a frat boy straight to the floor. Naturally the dog perks right up and Big Momma moves on to her next hurdle. Unfortunately, that’s on of the funniest bits in the whole show.

To wrap things up Big Momma once again launches into Mrs. Doubtfire mode by leaving the audience with sage words on the importance of family, closing with the reminder that though she’s sad to go we should always be on the look out because you never know when Big Momma might pop up again. Is that a threat? The last thing we see is Lawrence flashing a troublingly mischievous grin as the screen fades to black. The mere suggestion of Big Momma 3 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for audiences everywhere. Just our luck, there’s probably already a script out there somewhere waiting to be unleashed.
3 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed star rating out of five