Note carefully the title of the third Big Momma movie. There’s no house and no numeral, giving the chilling implication that the series will no longer be restrained by space, and can potentially spin off into infinity, adding momma after momma with each new entry. Only the subtitle will change: Big Mommas: The Search For Big Momma’s Gold, Big Mommas: Mommas To Moscow, Big Mommas: In Space, etc., etc. Or maybe not. Star Martin Lawrence, now the sole remaining element from the original Big Momma’s House 11 years ago, looks pretty tired both in and out of makeup here, bringing only a fraction of the purse-slapping, fat-jiggling energy on display when the series began.
He isn’t the only worn-out element of the film, which opens with him overseeing a botched attempt to catch some criminals by wiring one of their own. One dead informant later, Lawrence and stepson Brandon T. Jackson are both donning dresses and going undercover at an all-girls’ art school in search of an incriminating flash drive. That’s a ridiculous excuse to get the leads in drag, but to be fair, it’s no more ridiculous than any other plot in the Big Momma series. And, again being fair, the slackness of the gags that follow—which include an impromptu, cafeteria-moving rap sequence and a flesh-pressing game of Twister played by Lawrence and an unbilled Faizon Love—are also perfectly in keeping with what’s come before.
But it all seems so much more perfunctory. Playing a high-school senior, but looking every one of his 26 years, Jackson doesn’t have the chops to compensate for Lawrence’s obvious disengagement. Lawrence’s grotesque fat-granny act wasn’t funny the first time around, but at least he was trying. There’s no punch to his flailing and chastising anymore, and with Jackson failing to rise to the occasion, there’s no one to take the torch from his exhausted, fat-suited hand. Even Big Momma deserves better than this.