Madea’s Family Reunion—Lionsgate

Video: 4
Audio: 4
Extras: 4

I may have arrived a bit too late to the party to fully embrace Madea’s Family Reunion. Tyler Perry’s Madea character was born on stage and brought to life through a series of successful plays written, directed, and performed by Perry. Two of those plays have now become full-length feature films: 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman and the film in question here, which recounts with humor and drama the personal struggles within one multigenerational family.

The movie contains moments that really shine, especially in its willingness to talk about God in a positive light, a rarity in modern cinema. It’s the awkward juxtaposition of comedy and drama that ultimately holds the movie back. Amidst serious (and sometimes melodramatic) looks at spousal abuse, child molestation, and broken familial bonds, we cut to a man dressed up like an old black woman providing comic relief. It’s just too jarring.

That said, Lionsgate has put together a nice DVD package, featuring a clean, colorful, detailed 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer (a full-screen DVD is also available) and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that benefits from a rich R&B soundtrack. Bonus content includes interesting commentary by Perry, a 22-minute making-of, deleted scenes, and several short features about key scenes and the music.

More than anything, this DVD made me want to check out Perry’s stage shows, where his style of storytelling might be more appropriate. Conveniently, the shows are available on DVD in The Tyler Perry Collection sets. I suggest you start there.