Sometimes, Tyler Perry can give us some impressive content. Sometimes, his stuff runs a little on the dramatic side. And sometimes, he tears the metaphorical doors off and cranks up the drama clear into melodrama status and gives us a wholly awkward and deeply unpleasant experience. Which would “Madea Gets A Job: The Play” fall under? Our friends at Lionsgate sent out a copy for us to review, so let’s find out.
“Madea Gets A Job: The Play” is another of Perry’s stage plays, this time featuring the cantankerous, gun-toting Madea as she finds herself once again afoul of the law. Ordered by the court to perform a round of community service, she finds herself working at a nursing home, the Easy Rest Retirement Home. Herself an elderly woman, she fits in fairly well, or about as well as Madea can fit in anywhere. But needless to say, it’s not Madea unless there’s some drama, so Madea will set about trying to fix the various problems around her and trying to make some people’s lives better. Some will resist, and some will join in, but most everyone will be better for the experience.
From the first five minutes of of “Madea Gets A Job: The Play”, it becomes a fair bet that this is melodrama of the highest order. Featuring a song clearly geared for “poignant” but swinging clear around into “schmaltzy” about “Grandma’s hands”, you can tell that this is looking to get good and melodramatic. Yet at the same time, there are also some good laughs to be had here; see, this isn’t Tyler Perry’s first go-round involving an old folks’ home. An old folks’ home–Brown Meadows by name–is home to Tyler Perry’s funniest fare, “Meet the Browns”. This old folks’ home, however, won’t be anywhere near as funny.
Worse, they’re going to break the fourth wall, again, on a few occasions; Perry will couch this in a joke, but it’s still going to be very much a fourth wall violation, and many won’t find that welcome. It’s also oddly loud, especially during the musical portions; sometimes I’m not sure if they’re singing or screaming. Perhaps they’ve confused “fortissimo” with “arioso”, but “loud” and “bold” ain’t exactly even terms. It’s almost like he’s set up a line of firecrackers to explode to the tune of “The Star Spangled Banner”–Perry’s too busy hoping that everyone enjoys the song to not notice that it’s comprised entirely of explosions.
Worse, for a Madea movie, there’s virtually no Madea here. Her name’s in the title, her face is on the box, but she’s absent for large portions of the play, especially the first half. It’s like Tyler Perry wrote a play, realized no one would watch it, then brought in Madea for the second half to try and perk up the numbers.
Bonus features with “Madea Gets A Job: The Play” won’t be particularly mind-blowing, but will include audio options, your choice of English or Spanish audio tracks and subtitles alike, a behind the curtain featurette, and trailers for “Alex Cross”, “Madea’s Witness Protection”, “I Don’t Want To Do Wrong: The Play”, and a trailer for Epix.
“Madea Gets A Job: The Play” is a slice of Tyler Perry’s standard playbook: cram the play full of drama and hope everybody enjoys it as opposed to noticing how deliberately the title is crammed full of drama. If you like your drama, prepare for a spike of it directly to your jugular vein. If you don’t, well, better to watch something else.