In Big Momma's House, Martin Lawrence plays FBI agent Malcolm Turner-a seeming master of disguise who is sent to stake out the home of a, shall we say, portly Southern woman in hopes that her granddaughter Sherry (Nia Long), wanted in connection with a bank robbery, will show up. After the woman, the titular 'Big Momma,' leaves town, Turner is forced to go way undercover. Donning a fat suit, a wig and a ton or two of latex skin, Turner poses as Big Momma in an effort to get Sherry and her son to confide in him about the robbery and the whereabouts of Sherry's estranged husband, who has just escaped from prison. However, things get complicated (as they so often do) when Malcolm begins to fall for Sherry and must take on dual roles as Big Momma and himself.

Aside from a few sub-lowbrow moments of humor, Big Momma's House is a big dud. Seemingly spawned from the popularity of Eddie Murphy's remake of The Nutty Professor, the film is little more than a smoke-and-mirrors (or, in this case, rubber-and-padding) attempt at cheap laughs. The whole thing, from concept to script to screen, seems rushed and sloppy and something we have all seen a thousand times (and hopefully won't see again).

Lawrence has done a good job in recent years of transforming himself from a once raunchy standup comedian to a more toned-down and likeable performer. While he is a funny guy, the gimmick here is the makeup and the fat suit. All jokes are either at the expense of obesity or the quirks associated with people from the South. It could be anyone in that suit and makeup, and the movie wouldn't be any more or any less funny. The casting of brilliant character actor Paul Giamatti (who was so good as an irate radio exec in the Howard Stern movie Private Parts) in the throwaway role of second-fiddle to a guy in a fat suit, is a waste of his talent.

While some may find humor in the cartoon-like silliness of the proceedings, Big Momma's House seems to be little more than an easy cash-in for the all involved. A fat suit with a paper-thin plot does not a movie make.

--Thom Bennett