"Madea Goes to Jail" is a puzzler. It doesn't fit into any convenient genre category, and it doesn't even try. If you've ever been to a drag show, you'll recognize the wink-at-the-audience performance style of the title character, who only appears in about 25 percent of the movie. Sandwiched in there is a fairly serious melodrama about escaping prostitution and being true to one's social roots.
"Madea" is really two movies. The far shorter of the two involves Madea (writer, director and producer Tyler Perry) going around causing trouble and finally, after many taps on the wrist, landing in the slammer. The other movie, which could have been titled "Rudy: The Reluctant Whore," stars Keshia Knight Pulliam (who played Rudy Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" as a little girl) as Candace, a once-respectable young woman who has fallen into an unhappy existence on the streets.
During a preliminary hearing for a prostitution charge, Candace runs into Joshua (Derek Luke, "Notorious"), who knew her before her current trouble, and is now an up-and-coming assistant DA assigned to prosecute her case. Because of his bias, he hands the case over to his fianc