Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son was actually released theatrically. In an era of direct-to-video sequels, you would expect someone to shovel a third entry to this “franchise” into the home market, but no. At least no one tried to peg movie goers for a 3D experience. Martin Lawrence in a fat suit in 3D? Shudder at that thought.

The original Big Momma at least has a stupid, contrived charm to it. More or less, the prior two were thinly connected crime thrillers with some awkward moments tossed in to make the impossible cover Lawrence walks around in more complicated. This one… there are no words.

Like Father Like Son forces its way into bringing a second person into this utterly needless charade, as a group of Russian gangsters (who are named Vlad and Dmitri, so you know they’re Russian) track down a USB flash drive full of evidence. As fate would have it, that USB MacGuffin takes the young Brandon T. Jackson and father into an all-girls school, because where else would you hide something like that? Unbelievably, there’s a second MacGuffin too, a rap contract Jackson’s character needs his father to sign, the only reason he gets trapped in this undercover operation in the first place.

So, father and son both don the fat suits, because Lawrence couldn’t just walk into the school, say he’s FBI, and carry out his investigation in a day or two… or wait. Actually, he could, but then where would all of the musical numbers and romantic shenanigans come from? Yes, Big Mommas is taking a cue from High School Musical, the arts college primed for a plethora of contrived sequences as Jackson is forced to sing, and shocking no one, manages to display his talents for a new girlfriend.

On the other side, we have Lawrence forced to do nude modeling, attempting to keep his son’s cover in a life drawing class. Through a speech that would make the writers of Beverly Hills Cop faint in dismay, Lawrence not only manages to keep the young, slender model from disrobing, he ends up on that table, fat suit and all. The point? There isn’t one, the fire alarm ringing and the whole scene then a distant memory, hopefully like this third sequel so none of the execs get the idea for a fourth one. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]

This Fox transfer for Big Mommas is troubling from the start, and not in the sense that you’re simply watching a third entry in the Momma series. There’s some clear edge enhancement and general sharpening behind the opening credits as Lawrence tracks down the mailman. It continues for a few minutes into the film itself producing mild halos in a variety of styles, before the problem disappears completely.

The grain structure takes a hit here too, obviously elevated above any natural level. While it will settle down, there’s a sense that this one is suffering from a slightly inadequate encode throughout. There’s not much else it could be after the sharpening dies down. Halos disappear, but so do the black levels, flatlining during the film’s numerous nighttime excursions. A dominate blue haze covers the image, the worst of it coming during the opening dock mini-shoot out, although few of the later scenes will make up for it. It’s a non-stop attempt at recovery that never completes its journey.

Colors, as is the norm for a farce comedy, are elevated enough to produce pleasing hues and bold primaries. That red dress that is a dominate part of Momma’s wardrobe shines here with an overwhelming push. Flesh tones prove natural and pleasing.

Definition in general is okay (f not much else), producing enough facial detail to get an easy B-, the fat suit for all of its quirks actually filled with pores and other skin texture. Exteriors of the school are consistent and clean, a plethora of trees dotting the campus providing some scenic views. It’s step up from the opening where that oddball EE ruins the natural image fidelity. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]

There’s not much going on for Mommas’ DTS-HD track to push through the speakers. This dry comedy sticks to the dialogue, reproducing that well enough with a stern center. Surrounds keep to themselves even on the campus, general ambiance not a factor in a mix as dull as this one.

That means the music has to pick up the slack, the obviously not live songs reproduced with sparkling clarity and a throbbing bass line where appropriate. Lyrics bolt from the center to give them a presence worth noticing, while the bleed into the rears creates a nicely dimensional soundfield lacking everywhere else. In a way, it’s almost a shame there are so few musical numbers. In another way, you’ll just be glad they’re short to keep the running time down. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

Fox doesn’t send screeners on time for release, and this is based off a rental exclusive with no bonus features. Yes Fox, surely consumers will rush out and purchase Big Momma 3 to see the extras. [xrr rating=0/5 label=Extras]

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