Boo 2! A Madea Halloween for me is kind of like a visit to the dentist you’ve been putting off for years. I’ve been meaning to get to it because I know I SHOULD (with Boo 2, for the sake of cultural literacy; with my teeth, for the sake of not having to drink my dinner through a straw for the rest of my life), but I also know there’s a good chance I’ll walk away from it in massive amounts of pain.
The first Boo had a simplistic plot that was literally birthed from a joke in Chris Rock’s Top Five, but thanks to Tyler Perry’s box office magic touch (and probably a significant curiosity factor), it became the second highest-grossing of his Madea films. A year later, however, this hastily slapped together sequel (granted, since he makes, like, 10 movies a year, all of Perry’s films seem hastily slapped together) ended up being the lowest earner of the series, which goes to show that even Perry’s undiscriminating core audience realized this well had run dry.
Any expectations I might’ve had for Boo 2 were lowered by the first film, which I dare say is the worst of the Madea films I’ve seen — granted, it’s hard for a horror fan to be objective having to witness what Perry did to my beloved genre. Still, watching the trailer for the sequel, I had a glimmer of hope that it would fix one annoying aspect of Boo: *SPOILER ALERT* the fact that all of the supernatural events were just a prank. Frankly, I thought a driving force behind Boo 2 might be the desire to correct the shortcomings of its predecessor. Boy, am I a dope.
Boo 2 is basically a rehash of the first film, with the frat boys who played the joke the first time falling prey to the prank this time around. I won’t reveal who the pranksters are — Who am I kidding? It doesn’t matter. It’s Brian (Perry, sans makeup). — but let’s just say that the moral of the story seems to be that if you make someone think they’re gonna die, they’ll be so traumatized that they’ll do whatever you want them to do. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy some duct tape and a ball peen hammer before the IRS agent who’s auditing me arrives.
In the movie, we’re supposed to believe that Brian’s smothering parental style is superior to the leniency of his ex-wife Debrah (Taja V. Simpson, in a shrewish role that provides further ammunition to Perry detractors who complain about his portrayals of black women again and again and again). When Debrah lets their wild-child daughter Tiffany (Diamond White) attend a Halloween party against Brian’s wishes, he sabotages the shindig, terrorizing all of the attendees and then getting them ARRESTED so he can “save” Tiffany from having consensual sex while teaching his ex a lesson in parenting. And somehow, this plan works!
In Perry’s wet dream scenario, everyone ends up apologizing to HIM (that is, Brian); both of the black women in Brian’s immediate family are practically licking his boots by the time the credits roll. Look, if Perry wants to have the out-of-control teen learn her lesson, fine (granted, that’s just recycling the first film, and by now, she’s 18, so she’s actually an adult), but the condescending way in which he writes Debrah’s character — basically as if she’s a second daughter — is maddening, particularly in light of his track record with black female characters.
The main “woman” in the film, of course is Madea (Perry in drag), who as always, is accompanied by her senior citizen posse — Bam (Cassi Davis), Hattie (Patrice Lovely) and Joe (Perry again) — a team of amazingly unevolved caricatures who feel like a racist 1930s storybook come to life. At times, it plays like a movie occupied almost entirely by variations of the “spook” stereotype. In separate scenes, the increasingly infantile Bam and Hattie literally have the piss scared out of them.
Of course, all of the problems with the first film also continue in the sequel, from cringey performances by a cast of social media personalities (with UFC fighter Tito Ortiz added into the mix) to the flimsy, often nonsensical plot (Where’s the explanation of the scene where Madea puts her hand THROUGH a random Grim Reaper?), plus toothless horror elements and humor that, despite Perry’s Christian origins, revels in threats of violence and sexual innuendo (including Joe hitting on one of Tiffany’s friends even after she tells him she’s under 18, making a joke about her PUSSYcat costume).
Out of all this awfulness comes a ray of light, however: Perry has stated that he’s retiring Madea, thus eliminating the scariest thing about Boo 2: the potential for another sequel.