The Sterling Standard in Movie Reviews 

Follow Us On:



More Tricks Than Treats

Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry
 113 Minutes
Rated: PG-13
Directed by:  Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely
Boo! A Madea Halloween

Some movie franchises are simply immune to the critics’ barbs that inevitably greet each installment, no matter how dreadful the film may be, or else franchises like Friday the 13th and Police Academy would have died out in their infancy. Others, like Fast and Furious, are equally immune to criticism but are more of a mixed bag in terms of quality. That’s the perfect way to look at Tyler Perry’s latest effort featuring his unstoppable female force of nature, Madea. When Boo! A Madea Halloween works, it’s hilarious, but when it misfires, more often than not, it can be excruciating.


Boo! A Madea Halloween is the extremely prolific Perry’s eighth or ninth or tenth film (it’s easy to lose track of them) featuring Madea, and, like the others in the franchise, he does sextuple duty here. Perry wrote, directed, and produced the film, as well as playing three separate roles, Madea, her brother Joe, and Joe’s son Brian. Unlike most of Perry’s Madea movies, Halloween did not originate as a stage play, but, rather, as a joke punch line in Chris Rock’s Top Five. Once Rock suggested the title, however, it’s easy to see why Perry picked up on it.


Based on that title, some might think that Halloween would be a horror spoof pitting the exceedingly formidable Madea against overmatched ghosts, goblins, and demons. And, while the thought of Madea whomping up on Michael Myers or Freddie Kruger has enormous cinematic possibilities, Perry settled on something far more prosaic as a storyline. Madea does go on the warpath here, but her target is a fraternity at the nearby college. Again, the thought of Madea stepping into Seth Rogen’s shoes in an alternate version of Neighbors has its charms as well, she doesn’t even get to take on as relatively non-threatening an adversary as Zac Efron.


No, Madea’s adversaries here are frat boys, but they are about as pathetic a bunch of losers as one is likely to find anywhere outside of the rejected pledges in Animal House. Although Madea Halloween is ostensibly set in the south (and was filmed here in Atlanta), the frat boys seem to have come straight out of a Brooklyn boy band. Their leader, played by Yousef Erakat, best known as YouTube celebrity (this film would suggest that he shouldn’t give up his “day” job), is far more annoying than anything else.


It seems that the frat boys have been putting the moves on Madea’s grand-niece Tiffany (Diamond White) and some of her friends. Tiffany’s father Brian responds by trying to crack down on his daughter, a move that goes predictably awry when he asks Madea and friends to look after Tiffany when he goes out of town on a business trip. Tiffany is easily able to sneak out of the house and go to the party, while Madea and friends are riffing and gabbing downstairs.


Boo! A Madea Halloween follows the usual Perry script by mixing strongly traditional moral values with the wit and wisdom of Madea and Uncle Joe, whose recounting of their own past exploits often seem to flout those same values. The film brings up a potentially scary scenario, involving underage teenage girls getting involved with college frat boys, and turns it into an almost chaste PG-rated bit of silliness. The script makes it very clear that the frat boys don’t know that Tiffany is under 18, and, when they do find out, they avoid her like the plague and make every effort to let people know. After that potential complication is avoided, all the film has left are high-school level pranks that the frat boys try to play on Madea and friends, like the “scary” clown encounter shown in the clip below.


Boo! A Madea Halloween is a giant missed opportunity. For all intents and purposes, Halloween has very little to do with the storyline, other than as serving for the framing device for some of the pranks. In fact, I got the distinct impression that Perry merely dusted off an existing script and rewrote it slightly to incorporate a Halloween theme. I’d be willing to bet that he had already devised a takeoff on Seth Rogen’s Neighbors films and simply plugged the Halloween imagery in. The idea is inspired; the mere thought of Madea on the loose at a frat party is hilarious (and, indeed, the couple of good moments from her trip to the frat house that are shown in the trailer demonstrate that). The execution is not.


Instead of simply letting all his characters go wild, Perry turns much of the film into an old-fashioned morality play. For those unafraid of mild spoilers, here’s the gist of Perry’s message: old-fashioned morality is important, but parents shouldn’t be too controlling. That message is delivered in an extremely heavy-handed manner, and far too much of the movie sounds like a very bad Sunday sermon delivered to an elementary school class.


Not surprisingly, the best parts of Halloween are the rather extended riffs that Madea and Joe go on, accompanied in this film by Madea’s friends Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) and Hattie (Patrice Lovely). Perry has worked with both actresses in other projects, and the three of them play naturally off each other. These lengthy sequences seem largely improvised, even though it’s clear that they required extensive reshooting in order to incorporate having Perry appear, heavily made up, in both the Madea and Joe roles. Madea and Joe are an acquired comic taste (Joe’s riffs on his methods of disciplining Brian as a boy would be very troublesome if anyone in the audience took them seriously), but I enjoy them, and Davis and Lovely fit right in. Those sequences make the rest of the film tolerable.


Boo! A Madea Halloween is a movie that will play much better on home video than in a theater simply because a home audience has the ability to fast forward through the numerous inane scenes in the movie and watch the scenes involving Perry, Davis, and Lovely riffing off each other. Those scenes show Tyler Perry at his best, both as an actor and a writer. The rest of the movie exposes his directorial weakness and the overall weakness of the script. For a writer/director who has created two truly inspired comic alter egos to flounder that badly with his other actors is a disappointment as, ultimately, is the movie itself. There’s too much trick and not enough treat here.

In this scene, Tyler Perry has an encounter with a scary clown.

Read other reviews of Boo! A Madea Halloween:


Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016) on IMDb