Tyler Perry breaks out in ‘Jail’

In Tyler Perry’s newest film, "Madea Goes to Jail," two seemingly unrelated story lines converge in a way that will leave you questioning whether it was coincidence or divine intervention.

America’s favorite irreverent, pistol-packin’ "grandmomma" is back. This time Perry’s sassy Madea faces jail time when a parking incident compounds her already lengthy litany of rage problems.

After having little success in anger management with TV’s eminent Dr. Phil, who at one point proclaims in frustration, "You have to get better to be crazy!" Madea is sentenced to prison. There, she befriends Candace (Keshia Knight Pulliam) who’s been wrongly convicted by a vindictive assistant district attorney. Together — and with some A-list celebrity support, like of Al Sharpton, Steve Harvey and the women of TV’s "The View" — the pair get their cases tossed.

"Madea Goes to Jail" is Perry’s ninth film and like his others, it’s earned the respect of moviegoers, if not the critics. Widely panned, it handily topped the box office chart this week. But "Madea" is not the nonsensical farce it purports to be. In fact, it is a very heavy drama only punctuated with comic relief. It is much less an urban version of Vicki Lawrence’s "Mama’s Family" than a spiritual tale of forgiveness and redemption. Still, if the irony of the film’s opening song (Tom Jones’ "She’s a Lady") and Madea’s slap down of tough gal prisoner "Big Sal," whom she addresses as "young man," is too subtle, there is plenty of slapstick and wit to carry you through.

Perry is wonderful as the big-boned Mabel "Madea" Simmons, a character he introduced in his 1999 "I Can Do Bad All By Myself." Emmy Award-winning Pulliam, best known as Rudy Huxtable from "The Cosby Show," does an adequate job as Candy, although at times her story line reads like an old episode of "Baretta." Prosecutors Joshua, Linda and Chuck (Derek Luke, Ion Overman, and RonReaco Lee, respectively) are one-dimensional and Candy’s street friend Donna (Vanessa Ferlito) is right out of an "ABC Afterschool Special." The only solid role is one of the smallest: Prison preacher and woman’s advocate Ellen (Academy Award nominee Viola Davis).


But "Madea Goes to Jail" is an ensemble film and all of these minor or ostensibly bland performances somehow come together under the tutelage of Perry to give us this delightful movie.


2 1/2 Honks

"Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail," starring Tyler Perry, is now playing at the Chateau and Galaxy 14 theaters. For show times, see Page B7 or go to

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, drug content, some violence and sexual situations.

To view the trailer or for more reviews and movie talk, go to

"Madea Goes to Jail" Trailer


Chris Miksanek movie reviews and movie talk

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