Big Momma's House
Big Momma's House is a 2000 American action comedy film directed by Raja Gosnell, written by Darryl Quarles and Don Rhymer, and starring Martin Lawrence as FBI agent Malcolm Turner. The majority of the film took place in Cartersville, Georgia, but the film was shot on location in California. The prime shooting spots were Los Angeles and Orange County. The film is also notable for being one of only four titles to be released on the EVD video format.
|Big Momma's House|
Theatrical release poster
|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|
The film is the first installment in the Big Momma trilogy, and was followed by Big Momma's House 2 and Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son. Though the film received negative reviews, it has gained a cult following since its release.
Undercover FBI agent John Maxwell, is investigating an illegal underground dog-fighting arena in Korea. He has been identified and later ordered by a Korean mob boss to be killed. John is eventually rescued by his undercover partner and master of disguise, Malcolm Turner.
Meanwhile, criminal Lester Vesco, who was originally serving a life sentence in prison for murder and armed robbery, escapes from his cell by killing a doctor and stealing his car. The FBI assigns Malcolm and John to capture Lester by sending them to small-town Cartersville, Georgia to stake out the house of an overweight, elderly African American woman, Hattie Mae Pierce, whom her friends affectionately call Big Momma. She is the estranged Southern grandmother of Lester's ex-girlfriend, Sherry Pierce, a bank employee who supposedly aided Lester in his robbery by giving him the key to the vault. After Big Momma unexpectedly leaves town for two weeks to help an ill friend, Malcolm and John sneak into her house to plant security cameras and tap the phones. Sherry calls Big Momma's house, and Malcolm disguises his voice as Big Momma in order to lure Sherry to the house and possibly obtain a confession. The plan works, and Malcolm and John work together on a Big Momma disguise costume before Sherry's arrival.
The next day, Sherry arrives at Big Momma's house with her 10-year-old son, Trent. However, Malcolm's behaviour and sudden inexperience with cooking confuses Sherry. Malcolm also has to deal with Big Momma's lecherous boyfriend, Ben Rawley; act as a midwife for a woman named Ritha, who has gone into labor; and attend self-defense classes under Ritha's older brother, a dim-witted security guard named Nolan, whom Malcolm handily defeats. After Malcolm almost damages the suit while sleeping, he tries to sneak back to the safe house where he and John are staying. However, Sherry catches Malcolm on the porch and he poses as Big Momma's handyman. Malcolm and John repair the suit. When Malcolm leaves with Sherry, John searches Trent and Sherry's belongings for clues, but to no avail. Malcolm bonds with Trent when he defends him against the two older boys who bullied Trent and kicked him off a basketball court so they could play. Malcolm and Trent eventually beat the boys at basketball, raising Nolan's suspicions, as he was watching from afar. Malcolm, as himself, also begins to bond with Sherry and Trent when he accompanies them on a fishing trip. That night, Nolan breaks into Malcolm and John's house and discovers their operation, but is caught and recruited to aid them after he insists on helping them catch Lester.
Malcolm accompanies Sherry and Trent to church, where the Reverend calls on Malcolm to give his testimony. Malcolm attempts to influence Sherry and Trent by giving them his testimony about the importance of not keeping secrets. When Malcolm, Sherry, and Trent return to Big Momma's house, they discover a surprise birthday party for Big Momma. During the party, the real Big Momma returns home prematurely, though John tries to stall her. Malcolm accidentally finds the stolen money hidden in Trent's footlocker. Sherry tells Malcolm the real story: Lester had wooed Sherry so he could steal her keys to gain access to the bank vault; Sherry did not tell anyone about her stolen keys out of fear of getting fired. John quietly tells Nolan in the bathroom that the real Big Momma is back, at which point, Nolan accidentally locks Malcolm out of the house, believing he is the real Big Momma. When Lester arrives after tracking down Sherry, Malcolm breaks through the window and fights Lester, causing confusion among the partygoers as they see two Big Mommas at once. Lester shoots John in his right shoulder and rips Malcolm's mask during a fistfight, which reveals his identity. Nonetheless, Malcolm subdues Lester by knocking him out through the window. Sherry and Trent are heartbroken to realize that Malcolm was an FBI agent all along, and they refuse to speak to him. The police arrest Lester and paramedics take John to the hospital to heal his right shoulder.
On Sunday morning, Malcolm goes to church to testify in front of Sherry, Trent, and Big Momma. Malcolm delivers his confession and heartfelt speech to Sherry and Trent, and later admits that he genuinely loves them. Big Momma forgives Malcolm, and the crowd cheers as Malcolm and Sherry kiss. The crowd celebrates as Big Momma and the choir sings "Oh Happy Day".
- Martin Lawrence as Malcom 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 with a mind that is as sharp as a tack
- 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, Sherry's long lost, overweight, elderly Southern grandmother
- Phyllis Applegate as Sadie, Big Momma's nosy and jealous neighbor
- Starletta DuPois as Miss Patterson
- Tichina Arnold as Ritha, Nolan's younger sister
- Octavia Spencer as Twila
- Nicole Prescott as Lena
- Cedric the Entertainer as the Reverend
- Carl Wright as Ben Rawley, Big Momma's annoying, lecherous boyfriend
- Aldis Hodge as basketball teen
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 gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, and wrote: "Any movie that employs an oven mitt and a plumber's friend in a childbirth scene cannot be all bad, and I laughed a lot." Todd McCarthy of Variety magazine was critical of the film but did praise the special makeup and Lawrence: "The sight and sound of Lawrence in fat-lady drag remains engaging throughout; script may often let him down, forcing him 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.
The film was released on 2 June 2000, and was a surprise hit as it opened as the number two movie in North America, and almost overtook Mission: Impossible 2 for the top spot that weekend. Big Momma's House went on to gross over $117 million at the US box office and just under $174 million worldwide. Each installment in the series declined from the box office realized by the original:
|Film||Release date||Box office revenue|
|Opening weekend||United States||Worldwide|
|Big Momma's House||June 2, 2000||$25,661,041||$117,559,438||$173,959,438|
|Big Momma's House 2||January 27, 2006||$27,736,056||$70,165,972||$138,259,062|
|Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son||February 18, 2011||$16,300,803||$37,043,617||$69,922,617|
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 are notable for being lighter and family-friendlier than the original. The sequels included some, but not all, of the same crew members, characters, and actors from the original:
|Big Momma's House||Raja Gosnell||David T. Friendly
|Richard Gibbs||Michael D. O'Shea||Kent Beyda |
|Big Momma's House 2||John Whitesell||Don Rhymer||George S. Clinton||Mark Irwin||Priscilla Nedd-Friendly|
|Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son||screenplay:
|David Newman||Anthony B. Richmond|
- "Big Momma's House (2000)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
- "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". cinemascore.com.
- Ebert, Roger (June 2, 2000). "Big Momma's House Movie Review (2000)". Chicago Sun-Times.
- 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.