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Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016) movie poster Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween

Theatrical Release: October 21, 2016 / Running Time: 104 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Writer/Director: Tyler Perry

Cast: Tyler Perry (Mabel "Madea" Simmons, Uncle Joe Simmons, Brian Simmons), Cassi Davis (Betty Ann "Aunt Bam" Murphy), Patrice Lovely (Hattie Mae Love), Bella Thorne (Rain Mathison), Yousef Erakat (Jonathan), Lexy Panterra (Leah Devereaux), Andre Hall (Quinton), Brock O'Hurn (Renaldo "Horse"), Liza Koshy (Aday Walker), Diamond White (Tiffany Simmons), Kian Lawley (Bean Boy), J.C. Caylen (Mikey), Jimmy Tatro (Sean), Tyga (Himself)

Buy Boo! A Madea Halloween from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD DVD Instant Video

Who would have guessed twelve years after Diary of a Mad Black Woman took Hollywood by surprise with its first place opening weekend that Tyler Perry would still be writing, directing, producing, and starring in movies as Madea?
The sassy, matronly heroine, first introduced in a 1999 Atlanta stage play, continues to draw crowds to the industry's bewilderment. Boo! A Madea Halloween, the seventh such film to star Perry in drag as Madea, once again defied expectations, opening at #1 ahead of three more widely released new debuts en route to a formidable $73 M domestic gross on a modest budget of just $20 M.

Boo! opens at the fraternity of Upsilon Theta, which is populated by stereotypical frat boys. These predominantly white and testosterone-laden young men are throwing an "epic" Halloween party per their frat's tradition. They extend invitations to a number of female passersby from nearby all-girls college St. Mary's. Among the invited is 17-year-old Tiffany Simmons (Diamond White), whose father (Perry in his first of three largely and awkwardly overlapping roles) forbids her from going.

Madea (Tyler Perry) doesn't believe in giving out candy, but she sits next to Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) while she does in "Boo! A Madea Halloween."

To enforce that, Mr. Simmons invites Madea (also Perry, as always) and some other elders to watch Tiffany and her friend. But eager to sneak out, these teenaged girls pull out a "Ghost board" (no Ouija trademark for you, Tyler Perry!) and concoct a legend about a ghost. It's enough to get the girls an escape, but their disappearance only prompts Madea and company to crash the frat party searching for Tiffany.

After the old folks break up the party, the frat boys strike back, with a strategic haunting of the geezers with clowns and such. Needless to say, Madea has the last laugh.

Perry's movies are proudly defiant of cinematic convention, but not in a good way. Like the hyphenate's other comedies that I've seen, Boo! is inert, flabby, and all over the place tonally. There are long scenes in which characters just sit around talking about disciplining children and use of the N-word. But in order to take this social commentary seriously, you'll have to be cool with the broad caricatures participating in the conversation with their obnoxious voices, exaggerated mannerisms, and ridiculous appearances.

Voice of reason Brian Simmons (Tyler Perry) wants his 17-year-old daughter Tiffany (Diamond White) and her friend Aday (Liza Koshay) to not attend a frat party this Halloween.

Perry wants to make audiences howl with laughter at the sight of Madea showing her breasts to horny frat boys who can barely process what they're seeing. But he also wants them to smile and nod with bits on parenting teens. You pretty much can't do both of those things in the same movie, which is why Boo! fails virtually every test of artistry you can throw at it. But Perry is used to that.
All of his movies have struck out with critics and been ignored by any awards other than race-specific ones and Razzies. But Wikipedia lists his net worth at $450 million and that reflects the one measure by which almost all of his movies have succeeded: with the general admission-paying public.

It is disheartening that a dumb, slipshod affair like this (shot in a mere six days) can triple its budget at the box office when creative works like The Nice Guys, Hail, Caesar!, and Hell or High Water sell only a small fraction of the tickets. But that's the business and this is nothing new. When Perry has tried to stretch his creative muscles, as on the 2010 drama For Colored Girls, the numbers go down. Bring Madea back into the fold, though, and the numbers rise. It's not quite as simple as that. Who can say why Madea Goes to Jail hit $90.5 million in 2009 while A Madea Christmas did only $53 M in 2013? And what made A Madea Halloween Perry's biggest hit since Jail seven years earlier? There seems to be little rhyme or reason to the degree of commercial success, only that Perry and Lionsgate have pretty much a surefire brand on their hands, having only faltered once (on 2014's The Single Moms Club).

Rather than waiting for next Halloween as they might have in years past, Lionsgate brings Boo! to Blu-ray and DVD this week, exactly nine months before the holiday, across from its fellow Halloween-themed theatrical competitor Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

Boo! A Madea Halloween: Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($29.95 SRP) and Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Even Tyler Perry's biggest fans would not dare to claim that the director boasts a great technical prowess. Nonetheless, the Blu-ray's 1.85:1 presentation displays the same competence of the brand's other works with sharpness and clarity befitting a 2016 production. Similarly, the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix will not garner notice from anyone not experiencing home theater surround sound for the first time, but nor does it elicit any concerns or complaints.

"Why We Love Madea" shows Madea crashing the frat party in clear light. Naturally, Madea (Tyler Perry) gets to boo at the screen more than anyone else in ":Boo! from the Crew."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Boo! is joined by two bonus features on Blu-ray.

"Why We Love Madea" (9:53) celebrates Perry's heroine with clips from her films.
Comments and behind-the-scenes footage soon zero in on her latest adventure and how it came about (inspired originally by a joke mention in Chris Rock's Top Five).

"Boo! from the Crew" (2:26) lets the cast deliver scary boos to the camera. It's silly.

The disc opens with trailers for Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas - The Movie, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection, The Great Gilly Hopkins, and Mr. Church. The menu's "Also from Lionsgate" listing allows you to replay them. No trailer for Boo! is included here or anywhere else on the disc.

The menu animates imagery from the film and plays clips while score and maniacal laughing are looped.

The eco-friendly keepcase has its artwork retooled into a full-color disc label as well as a fingerprint-attracting glossy slipcover. The only insert supplies the code for the Digital HD UltraViolet included with your purchase.

Madea (Tyler Perry) crashes a fraternity's epic Halloween party in "Boo! A Madea Halloween."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The enduring popularity of Tyler Perry's broad, crass brand of comedy is no easier to understand on Boo! A Madea Halloween than anywhere else. Never funny but impossible to take seriously, this farce doesn't really work on any level, and yet 8 million people paid to see on the big screen, so maybe I'm missing something?

Light on extras but technically sound, Lionsgate's Blu-ray merits no recommendation on the basis of the film it holds.

Buy Boo! A Madea Halloween from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Written and Directed by Tyler Perry: For Colored Girls Why Did I Get Married Too?
New to Disc: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Masterminds Queen of Katwe
Hocus Pocus Halloween DreamWorks Spooky Stories Barbershop: The Next Cut Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Top Five

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Reviewed January 30, 2017.



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