Arts & Entertainment

Tyler Perry’s new ‘Madea’ film employs humor as antidote to racism, Covid

By Guillermo Azabal

Los Angeles, Feb 25 (EFE).- African-American actor, director, producer and screenwriter Tyler Perry is revisiting his acclaimed role as Mabel “Madea” Simmons, a tough, sassy elderly woman, in a new comedy that features nods to the Black Lives Matter movement while also providing some escapist humor amid the pandemic.

A 52-year-old New Orleans native with a long, successful career on the stage and big screen, Perry has come out with “A Madea Homecoming” – a direct-to-streaming Netflix production that premieres Friday and is the 12th film in the Madea cinematic universe – just three years after the theatrical release of “A Madea Family Funeral.”

Madea’s first official appearance came in Perry’s 1999 play “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” and she continues to get big laughs from audiences more than two decades later.

In “A Madea Homecoming,” Perry returns to a tried-and-true formula of gags and sharp-tongued wit but also shows support for Black Lives Matter, a social movement that over the past decade has brought global attention to incidents of police brutality and racially motivated violence against African-Americans.

“I wanted to address (Black Lives Matter) and defund the police (a slogan popularized by BLM) and all those things in a way that Madea would. So I didn’t want to make fun of it as much as I wanted to be sure that we were absolutely paying attention to it,” the filmmaker said in an interview with Efe.

T-shirts expressing support for that social movement and jokes mocking racism abound in this film that is also written and directed by Perry.

The filmmaker also makes a point of using humor as an antidote to the suffering and hardship brought about by the pandemic.

“That’s the reason I wanted to bring Madea out of retirement, so people could have a chance to laugh. There’s so much going on in the world, and there’s so much hatred and anger, and so much division. And the pandemic, and we’ve been on lockdown. So to have people be able to sit in their house and watch, and I think the time is great,” the film star said.

This latest Madea installment initially revolves around plans for celebrating the graduation of her great-grandson, but as the zany, surreal plot unfolds various secrets come to light that threaten to sabotage the apparently joyous reunion.

Perry said he has high hopes for this latest film, adding that the story is different but that the key element that keeps audiences coming back – Madea’s essence – remains.

Many of the stars associated with the franchise’s long run – Tamela J. Mann as Cora Simmons; David Mann as Mr. Brown, Cassi Davis Paton as Aunt Bam – are back for this Netflix production, which also features Irish actor Brendan O’Carroll as Agnes Brown in an unexpected Mrs. Brown’s Boys crossover.

“In the past, my movies were in theaters for 1,200 or 1,300 screens. Now this is all around the world with millions of people able to see it,” Perry said of the importance of the film’s having its premiere on the world’s biggest streaming service.

Netflix viewers will hand down their verdict on “A Madea Homecoming” soon, but Perry says he’s open to keeping the franchise going as long as popular demand is there. EFE


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