Man, time is flying. It’s already the last day of February and I realized I haven’t done anything to celebrate Black History Month. Now I could use a phony excuse like I thought it was a leap year and that I was going to write something for a nonexistent twenty-ninth day of February, but instead I want to discuss a major movement in cinema.
Hogwash, some of you might be saying. What could movies have to do with Black History Month? Hollywood has been ignoring Blacks in movies for at least the last year. Sure Denzel Washington puts out a movie a year and so does Will Smith, but that’s about it.
Except for one major exception.
There is one type of movie that has exploded into its own genre, The B.A.D.A.S.S. movie (Black Actors Dressing As Supersized Sisters). The first example of a BADASS movie came in 1996’s The Nutty Professor, where Eddie Murphy played two generations of obese women as Mama Klump and Grandma Klump. The next year Mr. Murphy had gotten in trouble with the law and tabloids for picking up a transvestite prostitute from Santa Monica Boulevard. Mr. Murphy claimed he was just trying to help the trannie out, but it’s obvious the real reason he had a passenger in his car. He was going to turn a couple supporting parts in a movie into a movement and needed to know the most authentic way a man could dress like a heavy woman.
Three years later the movement was in full bloom. Mr. Murphy sassed himself up as Mama Klump and Grandma Klump in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. The same summer Martin Lawrence introduced us to the lovable Big Momma’s House which spawned two more sequels including 2011’s only major motion picture to as yet star African-Americans, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son.
But the king, or should I say queen (or maybe it’s she-king) of the BADASS genre is undoubtedly Tyler Perry. His Madea has starred in six theatrical releases, guest starred on a television show, and been the toast of off-Broadway. While Eddie Murphy might have received all the critical praise with his BET Award nominated performance as Rasputia in 2007’s Norbit, Mr. Perry’s Madea has the populist touch. Every one of his/her movies open with strong box office numbers keeping him cranking them out and bringing BADASS movies to the mainstream. April 23 brings us Madea’s Big Happy Family which one can only hope will be another touchstone for The BADASS genre.