It is what felt like hour three of the 101-minute Boo 2! A Madea Halloween. Freshly 18-year-old Tiffany (Diamond White), had long ago played her divorced parents Brian (Tyler Perry) and Debrah (Taja V. Simpson) against each other so she could go to a frat party at Lake Derrick, where, years before, 14 teenagers had been mercilessly slaughtered by killers still at large. Brian's Aunt Madea (also Tyler Perry) knew something bad was going down, so she dragged Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis), Hattie Mae (Patrice Lovely), and Uncle Joe (also Tyler Perry) out into the woods, where they are being menaced by inept parodies of Samara from The Ring, Leatherface, and Jason Voorhees. A few rows in front of me, someone is snoring loudly while the No. 1 movie in the country unspools before him.
Then, a blue light. I turn to see the slender figure of a man dressed in an Air Force flight suit. His long legs are propped up lazily on the theater seat in front of him as he puffs on a long cigar. He glows a pale, television blue and appears slightly translucent, as if ...
- Tyler Perry is Madea (and Brian and Uncle Joe) in Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween
"Force Ghost Will Smith!" I stage whisper.
The apparition grins. "Technically, I'm Captain Steven Hiller ..."
"... from Independence Day, who was killed offscreen when Will Smith refused to the sequel. How did Suicide Squad work out for you?"
He blows an ectoplasmic smoke ring. "Haven't seen it. I assume it was great."
"Uh, yeah. What are you doing here? You're not in this movie."
"I wasn't in the last one either. And I wasn't in Star Wars, so why am I a Force ghost?"
"It was a hilarious juxtaposition I came up with to illustrate the fact that no one involved in Independence Day: Resurgence cared."
"Hilarious?" A ghostly eyebrow rises. "If you say so. I see you've put away your notebook. Going somewhere?"
"I'm ready to bolt as soon as this horror show is over! Double Triple Threat Tyler Perry is taking years off my life."
"Aw naw," Force Ghost Will Smith says. "You gotta stay for the bloopers. They're the best part!"
"There are bloopers? On a professionally made film? That's shown in theaters?"
"They're the best part!"
In the darkness, the snoring man sleep apneas himself awake.
"I am not sitting through these credits."
"That's the beauty of it. They're before the credits! What do you have against Tyler Perry anyway?"
"What do I have against ... He's awful!" I clutched my pearls in disgust.
"When did you start wearing pearls?"
"It's poetic license!"
"Don't front like you've seen a Tyler Perry movie before."
"Front? Why ... I'm sure I have."
"At some point. I watched one on TV. Some of it.... Look, I know he's producing, writing, directing, and playing three parts at once, but this is awful! Has he ever even met an editor? I've seen better-written YouTube cat videos. I think he attempted a Get Out joke, and it made me want to just re-run that review and tell everyone to watch it again."
"Okay, so. It's bad. But you gotta respect Tyler Perry. He makes movies on the cheap so he can keep control of them every step of the way. He's exactly what you say you want."
"I don't want this! This is like Mama's Family for black people."
"YOU don't, but lots of people do. When Tyler started, African American audiences were so underserved that they would take anything, as long as it had people who looked like them in it. He proved how wrong Hollywood was, stayed independent, and now he's worth $600 million. And now, because of Tyler, movies like Moonlight and Get Out get made."
The snoring has resumed. "If that's his audience, at least they're getting some rest."
"Oh, like you've never fallen asleep in a movie before."
"I may have drifted off during Kingsman 2 ..."
The glow is gone. I am once again alone in the theater with Mr. Sleepy Man. THE END flashes on the screen, followed immediately by a raft of snappily edited line flubs, crack-ups, and outtakes. Force Ghost Will Smith was right. The bloopers are the best part.