BIG MOMMAS: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (2011). Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son isn't like Some Like It Hot; instead, it's like every other witless sequel meant to prolong the life cycle of a flailing franchise. Like it or not, the fact remains that there's not much to like here, and it only escapes a bomb rating because it's more irritating than offensive — like an ant crawling across a countertop rather than a roach roosting in the cereal box. The second sequel to the 2000 box office hit Big Momma's House, this finds Martin Lawrence again cast as FBI agent Malcolm Turner, donning the wig and fat suit once more to elude some Russian mobsters. The added, uh, hilarity comes with the notion that Malcolm's stepson Trent (Brandon T. Jackson) must also disguise himself as a female — in his case, a student named Charmaine. Together, Madea — excuse me, Big Momma — and Charmaine head to an all-girls arts school to uncover some evidence that will put away the criminals on their trail. Big Momma gets romantically wooed by a hefty caretaker (Faizon Love) who's into hefty women, Charmaine ogles the young ladies as they strip down to their undies, and everyone involved dutifully collects their paychecks while hoping for better luck the next time out.
The Blu-ray includes the theatrical cut as well as an unrated version that runs five minutes longer. Extras include audio commentary by Jackson, co-stars Jessica Lucas and Portia Doubleday, director John Whitesell and producer David T. Friendly; seven deleted scenes; a Top 10 countdown of Big Momma's most noteworthy antics; a 2-minute gag reel; and music videos for Prodi-G's "Myrical Miracle" and Jackson and Lucas' "Baby You Know."
BLOODWORTH (2011). It's easier to get blood from a stone than to get entertainment value from Bloodworth, a tedious adaptation of William Gay's novel Provinces of Night. Gay's story "I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down" was turned into a movie (That Evening Sun) that primarily worked because of the excellent lead performance by Hal Holbrook. Here, Kris Kristofferson is cast in a vaguely similar role — an elderly man whose past behavior makes himself unwelcome among his former neighbors and kinfolk — but unlike Holbrook, Kristofferson is used so sparingly in the story that he's never allowed to really shine, or even build a concrete character. Instead, this is primarily yet another coming-of-age tale about a clearly intelligent youth who wants to escape the rubes who surround him — in this case, aspiring writer Fleming Bloodworth (Reece Thompson), who gets along better with the grandfather (Kristofferson) he barely knows than with his father (Dwight Yoakam) or uncles (Val Kilmer and W. Earl Brown). With cinematography by Tim Orr (Pineapple Express) and a music department overseen by the great T-Bone Burnett (Crazy Heart), Bloodworth — set in Tennessee but filmed in North Carolina (including the Wilmington area) — certainly doesn't lack for competence behind the camera. But despite director Shane Dax Taylor's valiant efforts, the movie isn't able to render these familiar, Southern fried hicks the least bit interesting. It's more entertaining, then, to ignore the painfully obvious scenarios being played out and instead mull over the fact that siblings Kilmer and Yoakam are supposed to have emerged from the same gene pool.
DVD extras include audio commentary by Taylor and scripter W. Earl Brown; 20 deleted and extended scenes totaling 32 minutes; a 16-minute making-of featurette; and an 8-minute piece that look at the creation of Kristofferson's new song "You Don't Tell Me What to Do."
CEDAR RAPIDS (2011). Cedar Rapids is a low-rent version of the sort of raunchy comedy that's all the rage these days, but it wears its modesty rather well. In fact, its reliance on vulgar gags is so sparse that it's somewhat startling when this ends with an outtake of co-star John C. Reilly mixing flatulence and flick-a-BIC. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The plot of this amiable comedy centers around Tim Lippe (Ed Helms), a dorky insurance agent who's never ventured outside his hometown. So it's a big deal when his company sends him to the annual convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with the task of returning home with the event's top sales prize. But Tim's attempt to snag said honor frequently takes a back seat to hanging out with his new pals, including the obnoxious Dean Ziegler (Reilly), the reserved Ronald (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and the flirtatious Joan (Anne Heche). It's the same outline often employed in these types of films (e.g. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, also featuring Helms), but because the writing is a bit sharper and the characters more fleshed out than expected, there's actual interest in seeing how the story pans out and what happens to these people. Empathic feelings aren't usually engaged with this sort of fare, but Cedar Rapids manages to sell the idea, if just barely.