Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (PG) *

Martin Lawrence as Malcolm/Big Momma

Martin Lawrence as Malcolm/Big Momma

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the cinema, Martin Lawrence dons the fat suit of feisty southern matriarch Hattie Mae Pierce for a soulless third chapter of the comedy series.

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son tries to justify its existence, beyond milking gullible audiences dry, by embroiling a new generation in the cross-dressing mayhem.

However, screenwriter Matthew Fogel doesn’t have a single fresh idea and waddles over familiar ground, displacing father and son to an all-girls’ school for the performing arts.

It’s the usual crucible of bitchiness and ambition, where students burst into song in the cafeteria, providing an excuse (as if one was needed) for the young women to harmonise, pirouette and body-pop en masse.

Fogel drizzles the father-son bonding with cloying emotional syrup thanks to a tepid romance between the son and a female music student, who just happens to have written a ballad that would sound so much better with an accompanying male vocal.

The subsequent love duet around a piano, note perfect without any rehearsal, is just as cringeworthy here as it was for Britney Spears in the ill-fated Crossroads.

FBI agent Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) clashes with his son Trent (Brandon T Jackson) over the future.

While Malcolm hopes the lad will attend Duke University, Trent intends to pursue a music career, providing he can persuade the old man to sign a recording contract.

In order to browbeat his father into submission, Trent gatecrashes an undercover police operation and witnesses gangster Chirkoff (Tony Curran) murder an informant.

Now that his son is marked for death, Malcolm decides to hide Trent at Georgia Girls’ School For The Arts by posing as Big Momma and her great niece Charmaine.

The busty septuagenarian clashes with ballerina Jasmine (Portia Doubleday) and sidekicks Mia (Michelle Ang) and Isabelle (Emily Rios).

‘I’m a seasoned FBI agent. I’ve infiltrated tougher circles than a posse of gossiping teenage girls,’ chuckles Malcolm.

Meanwhile, Trent falls for talented singer-songwriter Haley (Jessica Lucas) but cannot declare his feelings and blow his improbable cover.

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son is as implausible as it is dull.

Insipid humour involves poking fun at Big Momma’s size or Trent struggling to control himself in the company of scantily clad young women.

Lawrence and Jackson are related by character name alone.

There’s no chemistry between them and no emotional wallop at the obligatory rebuilding of bridges in the face of adversity.

Trent’s dreams of becoming a musician are risible, coming to fruition with his first music video over the end credits.

Curran humiliates himself with a cod eastern European accent while an uncredited Faizon Love gets hot and bothered as security guard Kurtis Kool, who lustfully assesses Big Momma’s curvaceous frame: ‘Beyonce thighs and Rihanna eyes’.

Boys will be bores.

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