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In a beautiful written piece for the New York Times, Trevor Noah paints a picture of his childhood with his mother

Madea's Family Reunion

2007-03-19 16:01

Before the family reunion Madea (Tyler Perry) is planning can even take place, her family is already in turmoil. Her niece Lisa (Rochelle Aytes) is being pushed by her materialistic mother Victoria (Lynn Whitfield) to marry a violently abusive fiancé (Blair Underwood). Lisa’s half sister Vanessa (Lisa Arrindell Anderson) dislikes their pretentious mother and can’t understand why she won’t accept her new love, bus driver Frankie (Boris Kodjoe). And, to the disappointment of Madea’s brother Joe, Madea accepts a foster child Nikki (Keke Palmer) into the family. Madea and other family elders decide to bring the young people to order so that they can learn resilience and restore their pride.


Tyler Perry’s larger than life pistol-packing grandma is back. This time Perry directs himself and a star-studded cast which includes Cicely Tyson from Diary, Lynn Whitfield and Blair Underwood.

The same formula used in Perry’s first film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman can be found in Family Reunion. For instance the film features a rich professional man (Blair Underwood) who beats his emotionally fragile partner. Like Diary, there is plenty of slapstick comedy, a little romance and some Christian preaching intertwined with the serious story line.

The focus of the movie is on the upheavals of Madea’s nieces, Lisa and Vanessa. As in Diary these women have to make major decisions that include forgiving past sins, standing up for themselves and allowing love to prevail.

Oh, and of course the no-nonsense granny dishes out plenty of advice. The advice is mostly directed at her nieces. In one scene she tells them how to handle an abusive man: “Cook a big pot of grits, bring him into the kitchen, then toss the grits on him. Then after you toss them, swat him with a frying pan. You gotta get you a good balanced weight, toss and swat, toss and swat. Venus and Serena, that's called grit ball.”

Unfortunately, while she preaches strong Christian values, Madea sometimes opts for violence to solve problems, and in one scene uses a belt to discipline her foster child. On the other hand, the moral values have more weight and could perhaps change people’s lives. Because, like his idol Oprah, that’s what Perry wants to do. He wants the audience to leave with a lesson.

He zooms in on the lack of morality that is crippling society in general, but is perhaps more visible and widespread in African-American communities. He illuminates this in Myrtle’s speech at the family reunion: “As we marched up the road this afternoon, what we saw were young men gambling, fighting, cussing. Women with no clothes on, gyrating all over on this land. What happened to us? What happened to us? Who are you? Do you know who you are?”

These are important questions for people who were displaced by slavery, but also relevant for Africans who lost their culture in apartheid or colonisation. Entertaining the audience while making them think about their life and circumstance is what Perry does best. It’s important for him to encourage African-Americans, to stand up and do something for themselves and their community. As Madea, he says: "It's not where you've been, it's where you're going!"

Even with some shortfalls like poor editing and continuity, there’s no doubt that Perry knows exactly where he’s going…all the way to the bank.

- Nomfundo H Mbaba+Tshabalala

What some viewers thought:

Busi Hlophe – 26, community liaison
“It’s more than just comedy – it’s about moral revival of a lost generation. It takes a look at taboo subjects like child rape and how sometimes mothers are involved in this evil act. It’s definitely worth watching especially with your teens, as it preaches a good, and much needed message, but in a funny Madea way. I personally walked out of the cinema with a sense that this is what is needed in our townships. Maybe if more movies like this are made black pride might return to our people. Girls will respect themselves more and boys will become more responsible. “

Linda Mali – 22, musician
“Although it needed to be said as many young black people are losing themselves and their values, it felt too preachy for me. There were certain parts - like Maya Angelou's appearance and her words of wisdom about love - that resonated with me as a young woman and our never ending quest for love. That is one love that is created just for you. This film has some important lessons about life and the importance of family.“
Tyler Perry's pistol-packing grandma is back in Madea's Family Reunion. This time she's trying to organise a get-together in a family bursting with turmoil. Don’t make her draw her gun!


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godwin 2006-11-19 07:58 PM
madea i think it was something oppressed people can relate to coz we as coloured and black people grew up with that type of characters in our life so besides it being informative it was damn funny
Fufu 2006-11-24 01:12 PM
Well Done Tyler!! Now after watching the Diary of a Mad Black Woman, i thought it was the *ish....yoo this is Brilliant. I laughed so hard it hurt right up until the end. & i have never seen so many FINE brothers in one movie,.....i thought it was gr8!!!!!
tatum 2006-11-29 03:38 PM
family reunion its inspirational
Rodia 2007-01-24 06:36 AM
family reunion I liked the movie it was great. we have all of your movies. my son even likes them. we watch them every night....

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