Editors' pick

Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail

MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy
The mischievous grandma Madea lands herself in jail, where she meets an array of mixed-up characters.
Starring: Tyler Perry, Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pulliam, David Mann
Director: Tyler Perry
Running time: 1:43
Release: Opened Feb 20, 2009
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Editorial Review

Take Madea out of a Madea film, and you have straight-forward melodrama. Minus the super-sized, sharp-tongued incendiary matriarch, played in drag by Tyler Perry, "Madea Goes to Jail" is a decently made weeper, with the familiar cast of characters from Perry's immensely successful stage plays and movies: betrayed spouses, fallen women, men struggling to do right and conniving, social-climbing villains in very fine threads.

But add Madea into the mix, and Perry's dramas take a strange, postmodern twist, mixing genera and tone and leaving reality in uncertain circumstances. In the newest outing, a big-hearted prosecutor (Derek Luke) struggles to save an old friend (Keisha Knight Pulliam) from life on the streets, only to be thwarted by his jealous fiancee (Ion Overman). Madea's perennial struggles with the law grow more serious and she finds herself doing hard time. Unless good wins out in the end . . .

"Madea Goes to Jail" is both slapstick and social drama, and it is certainly the most confident mix of the two that Perry has managed to achieve with this particular part of his vast media franchise (he also produces the television series "House of Payne" and "Meet the Browns").

-- Philip Kennicott (Feb. 21, 2009)

Contains mature thematic material, drug content, some violence and sexual situations.