I first saw this film in the theater in March. I was in the market for a quality show to celebrate Women's History Month and the tail end of "365 Days of African American History." But it was Friday night and I was also in the mood to laugh. I convinced my date to see Madea's Family Reunion rather than the action flick he was lobbying for. We'd both seen the stage version of Madea's Family Reunion and all of Tyler Perry's other shows on DVD and knew the film would be fun.
The film and play are different, not repetitive. We didn't anticipate the degree to which Mr. Perry and his pistol packin' alter ego, grandma Mabel "Madea" Simmons (one of three characters he plays in the film), would load so many dead-serious and inspirational messages into this scenic gem. The ethnically diverse audience at the cinema where we saw the film seemed to concur. We all gasped and guffawed, oohed and aahed at the appropriate moments (except one, which I'll address later), and stayed to watch the outtakes and extra treats rolling alongside the credits. Mr. Perry knows his audience. He kept us enraptured in the palm of his hand until Madea broke the spell and directed, "You can go home now."
The film's script, music (which writer, producer, actor, director Perry had a hand in), cinematography, casting and wardrobe pleased the senses, with one major exception that profoundly disappointed me. Not everyone seemed to agree; I was surprised (and red-faced) to be the only one in the theater to react audibly to the rendering of the "Springtime in Paris" wedding theme pulled together by wedding planner Milay Jenay Lori (played by Jenifer Davis). When I saw it, I couldn't help but blurt out, "That's awful!" Everyone else in the theater was silent. They were probably either wishing I'd pipe down or wondering, as I was, why — given the movie's ample budget, the beauty of some scenes and realistic homeliness of others — the bridal set had to be so goldarn tacky. But that's a minor matter, like a ding in the fender of a top-of-the-line sports car, or the fact that fine-as-wine and manly-but-artistic Frankie (played by Boris Kodjoe) was not as wealthy as the equally fine, "love you to death," Carlos (played by Blair Underwood).