The United States economy is currently sporting close to a 10 percent unemployment rate. Right now, for every available employment position in the United States, there are five people vying for the job. The median duration of unemployment is over 30 weeks. More than 25 million Americans are now either jobless or underemployed.
Martin Lawrence is not one of them.
When the recession hit, millions of hard-working people, many of whom who rarely missed a day of work, who gave their lives to companies, and who put every bit of themselves into their work, still lost their jobs, as well as their means to support their families. Meanwhile, Martin Lawrence gives a lousy effort for a few hours several weeks out of the year, recycles old material, tells the same jokes, wears the same expressions, and makes the same movies, and yet he’s a multimillionaire. He’s lazy, incompetent, unoriginal, and apathetic. He also lives in a $37 million mansion, and he doesn’t give a shit.
Being an entertainer is a job. It might be a fun job, a job that comes with fame and money, and a job that many aspire to have. But it’s a job. And in any other profession in America, Martin Lawrence would’ve been fired years ago. He would have been fired for being inadequate, ineffectual, useless comedian who not only doesn’t have the ability to provoke laughter, but doesn’t care enough to even try. In Hollywood, that makes him a seriously wealthy man.
Today, I gave Martin Lawrence and his movie, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son $8. Like the millions of others who will do the same thing over the next few weeks, that $8 admission was an implicit contract. In exchange for a portion of my wages, it was understood that Martin Lawrence would entertain me. Given his track record, I had little expectation that he’d actually do so, but I did expect a modicum of effort. If he’d tried and failed, I could at least appreciate the endeavor.
But Martin Lawrence didn’t try. He put on a fat suit, he rolled his eyes a few times, danced on a table, posed for a nude art class, stole a storyline from Some Like It Hot and mashed it together with gags from his last two Big Momma movies, wrinkled his nose and delivered a few bad lines written by other incompetent people who spent almost no time writing a script. Brandon T. Jackson, who played Martin Lawrence’s son, also put on a fat suit, and in infiltrating an all-women’s college to locate a flash drive hidden in a stolen music box, Jackson’s character fell in love with one of the college students, who didn’t realize that she was a he.
In other words, Martin Lawrence told the exact same story from Big Momma’s House with a younger character, who could ostensibly rap. Brandon T. Jackson was paid an obscene amount of money for this, even though he failed to once provoke laughter or present to the audience something that they had not seen a multitude of times before. A man named John Whitesell directed the movie, and even though he failed to bring any of the characters to life or engage the audience, he too was paid handsomely. Likewise, two men named Don Rhymer and Matthew Fogel put very little effort into writing a script and were overpaid for doing so, and that would be the case if they were given any more than five nickels a piece.
In America, most people are paid commensurate with their talent, experience, and knowledge. In Hollywood, incompetence is richly rewarded. The sadder reality is, it is those very same wage laborers who allow men like Martin Lawrence to live in $37 million mansions. As a critic, all I can do is encourage you not to reward other people’s effortless failures, like Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, or allow people like Martin Lawrence to take advantage of your expectations. It may not make you a rich person to avoid a movie like this, but if you do so long enough, people like Martin Lawrence will also be unemployed. And while that may not be a desirable result, it is a just one.