Big Momma's House
|Big Momma's House|
|Directed by||Raja Gosnell|
|Story by||Darryl Quarles|
|Music by||Richard Gibbs|
|Cinematography||Michael D. O'Shea|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$174 million|
Big Momma's House is a 2000 American comedy film, directed by Raja Gosnell, and written by Darryl Quarles and Don Rhymer. The film stars Martin Lawrence as an FBI agent who is tasked with tracking down an escaped convict and their loot, by going undercover as the estranged grandmother of their former girlfriend, unaware of the bond he will form with her. The film also stars Nia Long, Paul Giamatti, and Terrence Howard.
Although the film received negative reviews from critics, it proved a box office hit in the United States by grossing over $117 million, leading to it receiving two sequels - Big Momma's House 2 in 2006, and Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son in 2011.
Undercover FBI agents, Malcolm Turner and John Maxwell, find themselves assigned by their bosses into tracking down escaped convict Lester Vesco, who was serving a life sentence for murder and the armed robbery of a bank. The pair learn that Lester may be seeking to find his ex-girlfriend Sherry Pierce, an employee of the bank who is suspected of supplying him with a key to the vault, as the money that was stolen was never recovered. Malcolm and John find themselves staking out the home of Sherry's estranged grandmother Hattie Mae Pierce – an overweight, elderly African American woman, whom her friends affectionately call Big Momma – in Cartersville, Georgia, and soon find that she is about to leave for two weeks to visit an ill friend. Malcolm takes advantage of this by posing as her in order to bring Sherry to her house to get her to confess to her involvement in the bank robbery.
To maintain his disguise as Big Momma, Malcolm is forced to maintain the real Big Momma's lifestyle. This includes him dealing with her lecherous boyfriend, assuming her occupation as a midwife, and attending self-defense classes led by dim-witted security guard Nolan, whom the agents are later forced to recruit when he stumbles onto their operation. During this time, Malcolm bonds with Sherry and her ten-year-old son Trent, both in disguise and as himself – posing as Big Momma's handyman – but finds nothing to link her to the robbery, nor to the missing money's location. After attending a church service with them, where he compels in his disguise for Sherry to not hold any secrets, Malcolm finds the missing money in Trent's footlocker after returning home to a surprise birthday party for the real Big Momma. His discovery is witnessed by Sherry, who confess to him that she had no idea what Lester was planning, and didn't report her key was stolen out of fear of being fired.
Matters soon become complicated when John discovers the real Big Momma has returned home prematurely. In his efforts to stop her re-entering the house, he instructs Nolan to lock her out, only for the dim-witted guard to lock out Malcolm by mistake. Lester eventually arrives on the scene, having tracked down Sherry, and soon puts her in danger. Malcolm swiftly breaks into the house, whereupon he tackles with Lester and subdues him after his partner is shot, but at the cost of his disguise being dropped in front of Sherry and Trent. Although Lester is arrested and the money recovered, Malcolm finds that Sherry and Trent refuse to speak to him after being heartbroken by his deception. Seeking forgiveness, Malcolm attends a Sunday morning church service and confesses in a heartfelt speech to Sherry and Trent that he genuinely loves them. Big Momma forgives Malcolm for his actions, and the church crowd cheers as Malcolm and Sherry kiss, before Big Momma and the choir sing "Oh Happy Day".
- Martin Lawrence as Malcolm Turner, an undercover FBI agent posing as Hattie Mae "Big Momma" Pierce
- Nia Long as Sherry Pierce, Hattie Mae Pierce's granddaughter, Lester's ex-girlfriend, Trent's mother as well as Malcolm's suspect-turned-love interest.
- Jascha Washington as Trent Pierce, Sherry's 10-year-old son
- Paul Giamatti as Agent Jonathan "John" Maxwell, Malcolm's rookie undercover partner who is highly intelligent
- Terrence Howard as Lester Vesco, Sherry's criminal ex-boyfriend
- Anthony Anderson as Nolan, a dim-witted security guard
- Ella Mitchell as Hattie Mae Pierce "Big Momma", Sherry's long lost, elderly Southern grandmother
- Phyllis Applegate as Sadie, Big Momma's nosy and jealous neighbor
- Starletta DuPois as Miss Patterson, a neighbor and friend of Big Momma
- Jessie Mae Holmes as Miss Other Patterson, another friend and neighbor with the same surname as Miss Patterson
- Tichina Arnold as Ritha, a pregnant woman and Nolan's younger sister
- Octavia Spencer as Twila, Big Momma's neighbor and friend of Ritha and Sherry
- Nicole Prescott as Lena, Big Momma's neighbor and friend of Ritha and Sherry
- Cedric the Entertainer as the Reverend
- Carl Wright as Ben Rawley, Big Momma's lecherous boyfriend
- Aldis Hodge as teen playing basketball
The film was set in Georgia but filmed in Southern California.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 30% based on 81 reviews and an average rating of 4.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Big Momma's House is funny in some parts, but it is essentially a one-joke movie." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 33 out of 100 based on 27 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, while admitting to laughing at many of the jokes, also felt there were tasteless moments thinking it could be "redeemed by comedy," such as the opening toilet sequence. Todd McCarthy of Variety, although praising Lawrence's "engaging" performance and the old woman makeup, also felt a poor script meant he had "to keep things afloat almost single-handedly."
The film, and the series as a whole, have been derided as typical of "representations of the big black woman that have appeared in mass marketed comedies" which at the same time devalue the women by casting "male actors wearing Latex fat suits". One review of the third film sarcastically comments, "Believe it or not, the Big Momma's House series rigidly follows the classic Hollywood trilogy structure". By the third film, the series was derided for its unnecessary rehashing of the cross-dressing gimmick.
Big Momma's House was released on June 2, 2000, and became a surprise hit in its opening weekend in North America, becoming the second-placed movie behind Mission: Impossible 2 at that time. The film itself would later go on to gross over $117 million at the US box office and just under $174 million worldwide.
A soundtrack containing hip hop music was released on May 30, 2000 by So So Def Records. The film's theme song was "Bounce with Me" by Lil Bow Wow. The soundtrack was also a moderate success and has been certified gold since its release. Other than Lil Bow Wow, the soundtrack featured artists such as Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat, and Black Dave, whose single Go Big Girl can be heard briefly in the film. It peaked at 41 on the Billboard 200 and 12 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and spawned two hit singles, "Bounce with Me" and "I've Got to Have It".
The film spawned two sequels in the Big Momma series: Big Momma's House 2 (2006) and Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (2011). Both sequels were lighter and more family-friendly than the original story, but saw reduced takings in the box office, and were panned by film critics.
- "Big Momma's House (2000)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
- "Big Momma's House (2000)". British Film Institute. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
- "Big Momma's House". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
- McCarthy, Todd (2 June 2000). "Big Momma's House". Variety.
- "Big Momma's House (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes.
- "Big Momma's House Reviews". Metacritic.
- "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
- Ebert, Roger (June 2, 2000). "Big Momma's House Movie Review (2000)". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Foreman, Jonathan (2 June 2000). "'BIG MOMMA' A DRAG". New York Post.
- Morris, Wesley (2 June 2000). "'Big Momma's House'". SFGate.
- Emily Fox-Kales, Body Shots: Hollywood and the Culture of Eating Disorders (2011), p. 154.
- Stuart Heritage (10 November 2010). "Big Momma's House 3: once, twice, three times a fake lady". The Guardian.
- Source: Box Office Mojo, last visited April 1, 2011.
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