A Madea Legacy

It’s been a long, strange and hilarious trip for an iconic character taking her final bow.

A Madea Family Funeral, available now digitally and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand from Lionsgate, is the 11th and final big-screen appearance of writer/director/star Tyler Perry’s Madea character, whose film debut was 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Over the years, the gray-haired senior citizen Mabel “Madea” Simmons has made audience’s laugh and think, from her beginning in live theater in 1999 with Perry’s play I Can Do Bad All By Myself to her box office blockbusters in the movie theater over the following two decades. Madea last month also exited the stage, finishing her farewell tour in Atlanta where she began — but her unique presence has left a mark.

“She’s quick-witted, gun-toting, purse-slinging, funny as can be, and she might be carrying some of that little goodness in her purse — all the while giving us wise words of advice with her comedic delivery,” said Ciera Payton, who plays Sylvia in the final Madea film. “Over the years, she has celebrated with us Halloween, Christmas, a family reunion, a funeral, and she’s even been to jail — several times.”

“She gives damn good advice that’s gonna stick with you,” added Courtney Burrell, who stars as A.J. in the film. “I mean, she’s like a family member.”

And Lionsgate has been there all the way, releasing the Madea films in theaters as well as the movies and plays on home entertainment formats.

“We are so, so, so grateful to Lionsgate for giving Madea a home for so many years,” Payton added.

“It’s kudos to Lionsgate for getting behind [the franchise],” said Rome Flynn who stars as Jesse in A Madea Family Funeral. “They’ve been there.”

Despite her last film’s title, it’s not Madea’s funeral. Madea heads out to a family reunion, only for the trip to suddenly turn into a funeral threatening to reveal uncomfortable family secrets. Her longtime companions, brother Joe and his son Brian (both played by Perry), as well as Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) and Hattie (Patrice Lovely) are along for the ride, all invited by Madea’s older brother Heathrow (also Perry) in his franchise debut.

“The message that Tyler’s delivering with this movie is karma will come back and bite you,” said Burrell, whose character constantly demeans his wife Carol (K.J. Smith), to the dismay of Madea. Carol, while not being physically abused, is nonetheless suffering.

“I think Carol was important to portray on film because she really has to take a stand,” Smith said. “She has been putting up with it enough, and I think a lot of women are dealing with that whatever it is, putting up with it, and enough is enough.”

Smith said it’s apparent Perry was raised around women because “his voice for women is so on point. You don’t have to change a word.”

Madea is famously based on Perry’s late mother and his aunt.

“[My mother] loved Madea,” Perry told CNN. “She told me whatever you do, don’t stop playing this character.”

Still, Perry said he finally had to hang up the wig.

“It’s been a wonderful run. I’m so grateful, but I’m not gonna miss that dress, not gonna miss that wig, not gonna miss how hot it is. I’m not gonna miss shaving. I’m not gonna miss any of that stuff,” he said in an extra on the disc. “As far as Madea, it’s time for her to go.”

As in all her films, Madea has a message to deliver with her final scene:

“Ya’ll gotta figure it out for yourself!”

Extras on A Madea Family Funeral include deleted scenes, outtakes and three featurettes: “Madea’s Tips for Attending a Funeral,” “Making A Madea Family Funeral: An Affair to Remember” and “Hellllur: Looking Back on Madea.”

Madea in Film

Ten other films have featured the eccentric Madea (available from Lionsgate):

Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005): Madea makes her first appearance when, after 18 years of marriage to lawyer Charles, her granddaughter Helen finds him ending their marriage and shacking up with another. Helen retreats to the house of Madea, who helps her get revenge.

Madea’s Family Reunion (2006): While planning her family reunion, pistol-packing Madea has drama on her plate, including a runaway under her care and her love-crossed nieces.

Meet the Browns (2008): Madea has a cameo in the romantic comedy starring Angela Bassett and Rick Fox.

Madea Goes to Jail (2009): The mischievous grandma lands in jail, where she encounters a variety of crazy characters.

I Can Do Bad All By Myself (2009): Madea catches 16-year-old Jennifer and her two younger brothers looting her home and decides to take matters into her own hands.

Madea’s Big Happy Family (2011): Madea tries to get her fighting family together for dinner to discuss the health of her niece Shirley.

Madea’s Witness Protection (2012): Mild-mannered Wall Street banker George Needleman (Eugene Levy) learns he’s been framed in a mob-backed Ponzi scheme. Placed under federal protection, George and his family are shipped to Madea’s house, where she whips them all into shape.

A Madea Christmas (2013): Madea accompanies her niece, Eileen, to the small town of Buck Tussel to pay a surprise visit to Eileen’s daughter, Lacey, who has refused to come home for Christmas. The real reason Lacey is avoiding her mother is that she has secretly married Connor, a white classmate from college.

Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016): Trying to win the approval of her friends, 17-year-old Tiffany sneaks out of the house to go to a Halloween bash at a fraternity, which Madea crashes. The partygoers decide to scare Madea with a series of ghoulish pranks.

Boo 2: A Madea Halloween (2017): Tiffany travels to Derrick Lake to celebrate her 18th birthday at a Halloween frat party in the middle of the woods. Madea, Aunt Bam and Hattie hop in the car to save her from the same terrible fate that befell a group of teens there years earlier.

Madea on Stage

Several plays featuring Madea also are available from Lionsgate:

  • I Can Do Bad All By Myself
  • Diary of a Mad Black Woman
  • Madea’s Big happy Family
  • Madea’s Class Reunion
  • Madea’s Family Reunion
  • Madea on the Run
  • Madea’s Neighbors From Hell
  • A Madea Christmans
  • Madea Goes to Jail
  • Madea Gets a Job

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