It’s our first time spending the holidays with Madea (Tyler Perry), and unfortunately the occasion is not as eventful as one would have hoped.

This time, Madea travels (sans Joe) with her dear friend Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford) to the countryside of Alabama to surprise Eileen’s daughter Lacey (Tika Sumpter). Unbeknownst to Eileen, Lacey has a few surprises of her own. She has moved south from her New York City college days, not only to teach local school children–somewhat like a rural Teach for America–but also to elope and live with her new husband, Conner (Eric Lively), who happens to work on a farm.

Despite having resided in the boonies for over a year, Lacey appears to be anything but a farm girl. Her bone-straight weave and posh sartorial style give the impression that the role was either miscast or Perry never thought to “unpretty” Ms. Sumpter to fit the setting.

The (melo)drama unfolds when outside corporate funds are injected into the small town to save the annual Christmas Jubilee. Straight from the headlines of Fox and Friends, a war on Christmas erupts when the angel financiers pull the wool over the townspeople’s eyes in an attempt to transform their deeply religious fest into a generic holiday party.

In another plot, Eileen learns the true relationship between Lacey and Connor, who Eileen presumed to be the help on her daughter’s ranch.

In response, Eileen throws a nonsensical tantrum, sitting out in the cold to wait for a taxi that was never summoned. A routinely outspoken woman, Eileen has no words for a daughter who dabbles outside of her race.

Perry borrows a scene from Paul Haggis’s Crash (2004)—rescuing a bigot from a capsized, combustible automobile—to overturn Eileen’s preconceived notions.

Essentially, she learns (as is ostensibly the American way) that choosing potential partners is the opposite of sorting laundry. Put blacks with whites, browns, reds, yellows–and vice versa. Colors can mix and match fluidly.

In this respect, A Madea Christmas is grossly misleading. The trailers, the posters, and most glaringly, the title, would have you believe that the movie would be centered on Madea and her wacky version of an Atlanta Christmas.

But instead, we are cajoled into 100 minutes of wavering southern accents and colorblind corn.



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