Sunday, August 19 , 2018, 11:02 pm | Fair 68º


Cinema In Focus: ‘Madea Goes To Jail’

Tyler Perry uses humor to address horror of drugs and abuse via film with an authentic spiritual message.

3 Stars — Enjoyable

Tyler Perry’s ongoing gag of portraying an elderly 6-foot-5 black woman continues to entertain in Madea Goes to Jail. Directing, writing and starring in multiple roles within the film, Perry’s genius is easily admired. Additionally, the natural inclusion of Christian faith as expressed within the black community is very well done, just as it was in his previous film in which he portrayed Madea in Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

As the alter ego of every person who has been taken advantage of and did nothing to get even, Madea’s belief is that it is just common sense to do back to others as they do to you. This is seen in a comically effective scene when an arrogant young woman in an expensive red convertible steals a parking space from Madea. What Madea does to get even is the solution most of us would not even imagine when similar experiences happen to us.

What makes the film work is that it isn’t really about Madea, it is about Joshua Hardaway (Derek Luke) and Candace Washington (Keisha Knight Pulliam). Joshua is an assistant district attorney who is about to be married to a beautiful, ambitious coworker who has the best record for prosecuting cases in the DA’s office. Unlike Joshua, who came up from the streets, Linda (Ion Overman) is an elitist who looks down upon the people she sends to jail. We won’t spoil the intrigue of what happens in their relationship and the unusual twists it takes.

As the title declares, Madea is sent to jail for her vengeful behaviors, but it is there that she and others meet Pastor Ellen (Viola Davis). With an authenticity that reflects her conversion to Christ and transformation from having been a drug-addicted prostitute, Pastor Ellen is able to speak the language and provide hope to the women who are enslaved by the pimps and drugs of the street. Understanding that humor helps lower defenses, the film effectively presents the hope and transformation possible through faith in Christ.

With the bawdy humor and surprising depth we’ve learned to expect from Perry’s films, this latest edition of the escapades of Madea and the people in her life is a worthy addition.


» When we discover what happened early in Joshua and Candy’s lives, we understand both the bond they share and the guilt and pain they bear. How would you have dealt with being Joshua or Candy? Would you be able to forgive?

» The straightforward responses that Pastor Ellen gives to the ladies working the streets breaks through their hard exterior. Do you know a pastor who is authentic in his or her ministry? How are they like or different from Pastor Ellen?

» The dialogue in the therapy scene between Madea and the real Dr. Phil is wonderful. Did you prefer the scene in the film or the one shown in the credits? Why?

Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church on the Mesa. For more reviews, visit

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