Heaven help me, this Madea character is starting to grow on me. In Madea Goes to Jail, Tyler Perry's latest adaptation of one of his innumerable stage plays, his giant, pistol-packing alter ego finally runs afoul of the law one too many times and finds herself in the big house (not Big Momma's House, the big house). As a character, Madea felt randomly assembled in Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea's Family Reunion, but now Perry has grown her into a larger-than-life force of nature that is genuinely funny.

Madea Goes to Jail would be a lot better, in fact, if it were actually about Madea going to jail, or about Madea at all. But she's merely a supporting character in the film, which is really about a young lawyer and his shrewish fiancee dealing with elements from his past, with light Christian themes baked into the crust. In other words, it's more or less the same movie Perry has been making all along, with one-dimensional villains, catty women, and cringe-inducing melodrama. The addition of Rudy Huxtable as a crack whore certainly raises my interest level, though.

That'd be Keshia Knight Pulliam, who is 29 years old now, if you can believe that. She plays Candy, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks -- someone actually uses that figure of speech -- who's now hooked on the junk and turning tricks on the streets of Atlanta. Our dashing hero lawyer, Josh (Derek Luke), a prosecutor in the D.A.'s office, grew up in the same ghetto and is astonished to be reunited with her after she's arrested. But his purely platonic desire to help her is hampered by his wealthy fiancee, Linda (Ion Overman), who sees no reason to reach out to "those people" when it's Candy's own damn fault she's so messed up.