Madea Goes to Jail is a 2009 film by Tyler Perry reprising his role as Madea, the don't-mess-with-me matriarch who finds herself in jail after one too many entanglements with the law. Meanwhile, in the B-plot to the movie, a prostitute named Candace (Keshia Knight Pulliam) fatefully encounters Josh (Derek Luke), her best friend from college who now works as an assistant district attorney. Sympathizing with her plight, Josh endears himself to get to the bottom of how she ended up on the streets in an effort to relieve his guilt about his success. As the details unfold, The Reveal leads Candice back to the man truly meant for her and helps to get her off of the streets. With the help of her friend Donna (Vanessa Ferlitto), and Helen (Viola Davis), a serious Determinator of the Church, justice is eventually done.Tropes follow below.
Tropes for Madea Goes to Jail:
Acting for Two: Tyler Perry, who reprises his simultaneous roles as Brian, Madea, and Joe.
Adaptation Dye-Job: Donna and Candace sport pretty wild hair colors while working the streets. Donna's crown and top layers are bleached blonde with brownish locks while Candace wears a fiery red wig.
Yes, we catch her fixing it in the mirror.
Interestingly, incarceration sobered their hair colors.
All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": Some people only know this as the movie that inspired The Oogieloves. The creator got the idea from seeing a showing of this movie where people were interacting with the film.
Amoral Attorney: Linda. She ends up behind bars for padding charges in order to bump up her conviction rate. Revenge is sweet, indeed.
Ax-Crazy: Tee Tee, who killed fifteen men before she got sent to prison.
Beware the Nice Ones: Tee Tee, Madea's sugary sweet cell mate, who presents her with brownies as a "welcoming gift", has murdered at least fifteen men and claims to be the first female serial killer. Madea is, noticeably, freaked out when she learns this two minutes after meeting her.
Conveniently an Orphan: Candace's family is nowhere to be found, though Chuck might have a lead on her brother's whereabouts.
Determinator / Badass Preacher: Helen doesn't play! Her fiery attitude rivals Candace's easily from their first minute in introduction. Played quite saucier than a Good Shepherd, especially since she leaves her Bible at home, fraternizes easily with women on the streets, and tells Josh straight that he must be fully committed to help out a junkie.
She also makes it a habit of making sure girls like Candace and Donna use clean needles if they're going to use drugs.
Dirty Old Man: And Dirty Old Woman, a lot of the old people at the party at Madea's act very perverted.
Drugs Are Bad: And they tend to go hand in hand with prostitution. Perry's films tend to downplay or obscure heroin as "the stuff."
Foreshadowing: "Ooh, 'that's' your fiancee? That'll 'never' work."
Groin Attack: Candace delivers one to the man Ellen partners with to get her found girls employed. Predictably, he opted for an unsolicited shoulder rub instead of a job offer.
Karma Houdini: Although Madea's charges were trumped up, she still committed a real, potentially life-threatening felony that got her arrested in the first place, and resisted arrest when the police came for her. There's even a scene where she pulls an assault rifle on a group of unarmed party goers. By the end of the film not only does she get out of jail scot-free, but she becomes a media darling with celebrities admonishing the "broken" legal system for arresting an "innocent" woman.
Opinion on Madea's so-called innocence was actually divided, with a number of people, including Whoopi Goldberg on The View, trying to get others to realize that Madea had in fact committed the crimes she was arrested for even if her sentence was longer than it should've.
Mistaken for Cheating: Heavily and painfully implied. To be fair, Josh's explanation doesn't help matters all that much.
My Greatest Failure: It is revealed that when they were in college, Josh brought Candace to a party after his football buddies convinced him to. When he accidentally leaves Candace at the party, his buddies gang rape her, causing Josh much guilt afterwards.
Oh, Crap: Madea's reaction when she finds out Judge Mabeline isn't ruling on her case. The much tougher, Judge Mathis is.
Pacifist: Cora, especially when glancing at her What Would Jesus Do bracelet and much to Madea's chagrin. Subverted by proxy when Madea presses the accelerator in Cora's SUV and rams the Jerk Ass who cuts her off into a church sign.
Parking Payback: Madea's parking space is stolen by a snotty female driver. What does Madea do? She gets hold of a lifting crane, lifts the offending car into the air and out of the parking space, then unceremoniously drops the car onto the street for massive damage.
Product Placement: More noticeable in this movie than in others. Apple, Coca-Cola, K-Mart, and Schweppe's just to name a few.
The Reveal: The audience finds out that Linda had been adding charges of otherwise dead cases to current ones, thus landing a number of female perpetrators to prison for much longer sentences. Upon finding out about this, Josh rats Linda out, leaves her at the altar, alerts the media, and prompts a formal investigation.
Revenge Before Reason: Madea goes to jail because of this technically. Though the trifle was slight — some rich, entitled Alpha Bitch cut off Madea to a parking space — I'd love to meet the troper who really feels sorry for that lady or her nice, shiny car.
Considering the Hate Dom for Tyler Perry movies, however, the only reason there aren't more tropers defending the victim of Madea's crime is likely that they just haven't seen the movie to complain about it.
Truth in Television: It's not really that surprising for Madea to become a media darling and her conviction overturned even if she technically has committed felonies and deserves to be jailed. The media does have a tendency to sensationalize criminal cases and even the worst offender can come out looking squeaky clean in the eyes of the public.