In the opening sequence of this reedy cop-comedy-cum-romance, Martin Lawrence steals a page from Tom Cruise’s “M:i-2” book when he rips off a latex mask and opens up a can of whoop-a*s on an Oriental flavored “Fight Club.” Lawrence’s intrepid FBI agent, Malcolm Turner, further stretches his undercover skills by hiding under layers of foam and other synthetic goo to become Big Momma, a cantankerous four hundred pound Georgia peach with irritable bowel syndrome. Why? It’s all part of a surveillance operation that goes awry when the real Big Momma leaves town unexpectedly. The sting’s target is a badass bank robber (Terrence Howard) who used to go with Big Momma’s estranged granddaughter, Sherry (Nia Long). It turns out Sherry inadvertently aided in a robbery and goes on the lam (to Big Momma’s house) with the cash haul unknowingly stored in her son’s toy chest.
As endearingly warm as Long’s single mother is, the crux of the film lies in the comic hijinks Lawrence launches from under the guise of Big Momma. His tongue-tied lust for Sherry is uproarious and the smackdown game of two-on-two (“Granny’s got game!”) against some playground punks is the film’s crowning jewel. Beyond that, “Big Momma’s House” is a contrived “Mrs. Doubtfire” wannabe. The romance between Sherry and Malcolm never takes hold and even the humorous Anthony Anderson and Paul Giamatti, as goofy law enforcement sidekicks, can’t pull “Momma” beyond a smattering of snickers.