By: Hawk Ripjaw (Six Pack) –
The frustratingly-named Tyler Perry’s Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween is bad, even by Madea standards.
Tiffany Simmons (Diamond White) is the reason I do not want children. She is a total shithead to her dad, talks down to her friends, and wants nothing more than to bang a frat boy. Her dad Brian (Tyler Perry) is a worrisome, protective pushover of a dad. He’s spent nearly every year of Tiffany’s life celebrating her birthday by showing up at school with a gift and a ridiculous birthday hat. He still treats her like she’s a third of her age, and lets her walk over him. She puts him down because he got her headphones instead of a car, and visibly treats her divorced mother Debrah (Taja V. Simpson) as the favorite. Debrah, for her part, undermines her ex at every turn and lets her new boyfriend fawn over her in front of Brian.
To continue to press her dad’s buttons, Tiffany returns to the frat house she tried to party at in the last movie, and now that she’s 18, invites herself to the follow-up party. This time, the party is at Lake Derek, which is called Lake Derek because years ago a man named Derek killed a bunch of teenagers there. Debrah, for some reason, is completely okay with with her 18 year old daughter going up to a haunted murder site with a bunch of horny teenagers with alcohol on Halloween Eve. Brian is upset when he learns, but eventually throws up his hands and does nothing. Madea (Tyler Perry), Brian (Tyler Perry), Hattie (Patrice Lovely), and Bam (Cassi Davis) yell at each other and talk about weed and prostitution, before making a halfhearted attempt to go after the kids. You can see why this movie doesn’t really have any teachable moments, besides how to not make a movie.
One barely-registered edge this sequel’s story has over the original is that it’s not immediately made obvious that the monsters are just people pulling a prank. For about half of the movie, it’s made somewhat mysterious, but there’s always that nagging feeling that Perry, an outspoken opponent of Halloween and a Christian, probably wouldn’t fill his movie with an army of the undead. The fact that the movie doesn’t come right out and say “We’re going to pull a prank” is still appreciated. While no one really has anything funny to say, Joe at least gets a couple of chuckles purely from the shock value of some of his surprisingly nasty lines. Unfortunately, it dissipates after multiple recycled bits.
The awful sound editing of Boo 2! is a stark reminder of how the word “punishing” can apply to two very different types of movies for two very different effects. To use recent examples, Dunkirk and Blade Runner 2049 had punishing sound design that was at times painfully loud. That discomfort was intentional, designed to build tension, panic, and atmosphere. Boo 2! is just noise. It builds tension over the unpleasantness of the movie, panic over realizing how your life has come to this, and the atmosphere of a cinematic universe involving a man dressing up like an old woman and yelling at people with her friends.
Apparently, the bare minimum of the sound mix for a “scare” involves a sound sting and between two and six characters violently screaming. Often it’s accompanied by a chainsaw or growling. It’s shrill and extremely unpleasant, indicating a profound misunderstanding of how sound design should supplement the movie experience. To boot, there’s a great deal of weirdly noticeable ADR that feels like a late addition to cut down to a PG-13 rating.
Last year’s Madea Halloween entry was filmed in about a week. While it hasn’t been revealed how long the sequel took, it feels even more amateurish and slapdash. It’s horribly lit, feeling like a made-for-TV Halloween special that never got any post-production. The shot composition and framing establishes no sense of space whatsoever, even to the point that different rooms in a house or different areas of the camp don’t tie together as one setting. The makeup for Madea and her entourage, whether it’s because of that lighting or because it’s as haphazard as everything else, looks fake as ever. Even the individual scenes feel touch-and-go, as though the first take was considered good enough regardless of line readings.
There’s a very distinct and uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu throughout this Halloween sequel, to the point where it almost feels like a soft remake. The elderly characters constantly either smoking or talking about marijuana is a returning running gag. There is once again a twerking scene, and several more Hattie dance sequences. Several YouTube stars return, once again simply to be themselves rather than try to act. Madea and her friends are once again pursued by monsters, screaming and hollering like the Mystery Team. It’s all just…. worse than last time.
Perry’s family-values storytelling doesn’t amount to much. Some of the character arcs come to predictable fruition, but don’t mean anything. The ending basically amounts to Brian and his friend slapping each other on the back for pranking the shit out of their daughters. But the daughters don’t learn much other than the fact that their dads are capable of pranks. The fathers, in their distinctly compartmentalized parental styles, simply win without learning how to be better. Especially in the case of Brian, he has simply frightened Tiffany until the next time she tries to sneak off to a party, this time probably without anyone knowing so that she won’t have to worry about Brian pulling another prank. So what’s the point?
It’s a mark of a bigger problem that Perry, who ostensibly continues to peddle wholesome family values, fills this movie with scenes that draw a stark contrast to his usual recipe. Snippets of attempts at wholesome parenting are punctuated by old adults yelling about marijuana, prostitution, bodily fluids, racial slurs, and physical abuse. In most movies, this would be unfunny at worst. But Madea was introduced as a tough-love authority figure with a loud mouth and a good heart. The latter is nowhere to be found now, leaving just an R-rated character in a “family” movie.
It’s just awful. Perry is putting less and less effort into movies that already feel lazy, and it’s abundantly clear. Boo! 2 has no sense of pacing, space, originality, comedic timing, style, taste, restraint, or fun. It’s a surprisingly hateful movie that demands to be hated. This might be the worst of all of the Madea movies, and that’s saying something.
Tyler Perry’s Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween (2017) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: whenever Madea references her past as a prostitute
Take a Drink: for every use of the word “ho”
Do a Shot: whenever Joe mentions his past as a pimp
Take a Drink: for every reference to marijuana
Take a Drink: for every time Hattie is incoherent
Do a Shot: every time someone is a dick to Brian
Take a Drink: for every sex joke