Malcolm Taylor is a quick-thinking, smooth-talking FBI agent who's put on the trail of Sherry - the beautiful ex-girlfriend of an escaped convict named Lester - in the hope of picking up some clue as to his whereabouts.
In the course of his assignment he finds himself playing the part of her grandmother, Big Momma. To add to the ensuing confusion, which is the result of trying to be a woman, cook food, deliver babies, wear dresses and put on faces, Lester, the bank robber arrives in the neighbourhood only minutes before the real Big Momma returns from a two week visit to her friends during a surprise birthday party thrown in her honour at her residence.
The action is a variation of that seen in "Mrs. Doubtfire". The makeup too, is done by the self-same Greg Cannom, who won an Academy Award for his work in that film.
Ultimately, the good guys strike out the bad ones in a travesty of a fight and Malcolm who's been harbouring a growing attraction for Sherry, wins her over.
So, what we really have here is a very safe, simple plot with a candy-sweet end. There's some excitement, lots of laughs and a happy ending - a complete entertainment package for the city's movie buffs. The comedy does tend to get a bit loud, crude and farcical at times, but this deficiency is balanced out by the film's neat story, sleek editing, satisfactory if not extraordinary performances and the ending - which resembles a big red ribbon tied around a colourfully wrapped Christmas present.
Martin Lawrence's performance as "Big Momma" reveals his versatility as an actor. He penetrates Big Momma's home and her life, but retains his cop instincts and agility, and infuses the role with life and vigour. The role of his detective partner played by Paul Giamatti is a supporting one that gives the film an even keel, alongwith that of Lester - the mean, dark, money-hungry rather sketchily depicted criminal, played by Terrence Howard. Nia Long's performance as Sherry fills that tiny vaccuum in this hilarious film. Her role of sweet, scared, loving young mother on the run lends the film its touch of romance and mystery.
The editing done by Kent Beyda and Bruce Green is sleek, especially in the climax scenes where just about all the characters have converged on Big Momma's homely, lived-in territory as guests to her party.
Of director Raja Gosnell, it could be said that he has presented us with yet another light, pleasing, fluffy comedy along the lines of "Home Alone 3", also directed by him.
The endnote - go watch the film not expecting too much and you won't be disappointed.This article was first published on 17 Jul 2000.