There are two main kinds of people who watch Tyler Perry’s films. Those who love his movies and those who hate them.
Then there are those like me who really want to love his movies and keep rooting for him because we admire how far he has come and what he has achieved for the black community. The reality is that Kimberly Elise, Tasha Smith, Jill Scott, Malik Yoba, Richard Jones, Janet Jackson are billable today because of his movies. But more than that, he gave a girl who doesn’t mind some dark chocolate on her screen a venue to see black families in action. No matter their madness I could relate to them somehow.
On the downside a beautiful and talented actress like Kimberly Elise might never be critically acclaimed or receive the highest rewards in her field because she has hitched her star to Tyler Perry’s melodramatic enterprise. Like someone said ‘while mainstream movies are subtle and take you in scene by scene, Tyler just drops the viewer into a fish pool of barracudas where you are forced to make instantaneous judgments’. LOL
He first came into my horizon with ‘Diary of a Mad Black Woman’ in 2006. DMBW was like a drink of cool aid after being choked dry with black movies where ‘fuckU’ is the noun, verb, adjective and mantra. It was good to see a black movie that was devoid of street violence, guns and plain old crime. The moralistic undertones, the Hallelujah singing were most welcome.
I went through the highs and lows of the MBW. Her expulsion from her matrimonial home. Her lack of self confidence in a new relationship. I crowed at her revenge: I understood every slap, every with held spoon of food, every insult she leveled at her bedridden ex Charles. Ha! I believed in karma once again.
I got to watch the movie again, late last year and it was like I had had brain surgery. Where I’d cried before I cringed this time - Charles unrelenting vileness, the druggie cousin's redemption, Madea shooting ‘em up? Oh please!
Then came Meet the Browns. Arghhhh! This movie made me pull my hair with its mediocrity and drama. Angela Basset played a long suffering, always crying, three times baby Mama who was waiting on yet another Sir Galahad to save her (and hopefully not impregnate her again). Latino girlfriend thankfully gave us some reasons to laugh though that grew old real soon.
Madea’s Family Reunion. That’s the domestic violence plot where hot grits resolves all problems and TP made multiple Madea-rish appearances. Twas alright but moving on…
The Family that Preys. Family loyalty, Infidelity, Sibling rivalry, two friends off on a ‘Thelma and Louise’ type adventure. I found this an interesting watch except for when Sanaa Lathan’s husband (without prior discussion)sweeps out the family’s joint account, an account majorly contributed to by the wife and Tyler Perry makes her the bad one? Come on!
Daddy’s little girls: So much drama (rolls eyes) – The druggie ex-wife and boyfriend, alleged rape, child abuse, Rich girl/poor boy - TP knows how to pile ‘em on! What I loved though was the message that a united community can protect their own.
Why did I get married? Despite its melodrama, this was one of his most entertaining movie. There was the villain, the good wife and all the characters in between. Tasha Smith carried the day as the loud nagging gangster shrew Angela married to a bumbling Marcus.
My favourite scene is when Mike reveals everyone’s skeleton-in-the-cupboard at the dinner table. Match Set BOOM!! LOL!
Why did I get married too This is where TP tries to rip off on the success of Why did I get married. But this time in Marriageville, there was no plot but plenty of subplots, and Janet J’s character finally went mad. I mean what was all that ‘trashing the house with a golf club for? Did her husband deserve a share in her book earnings? A big fat YES. If the roles are reversed would you think, a wife has a right to her husband’s earning? YES. So why the double standard?
Pls wait!! Does that cameo appearance by ‘The Rock’ mean there will be a ‘Why did I get married too too? Nooooo
For Colored Girls
This has been one of Tyler Perry’s better movies up to date and his most ambitious project. TP adapted the movie from Ntozake Shange's play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf – a collection of 20 poems each dealing with intense issues that particularly impact ‘women of color’. I don’t know if I agree with the issues being ‘For Colored Women’ – black women in particular. Women of all races and skin color deal with love, betrayal, rape, infertility, domestic violence, abortion, infidelity everyday. What is crazy is that this play written in 1975 (37 years ago) still resonates today.
For those of us who might never have seen it staged, we have TP to thank for bringing it to the screen. I am thankful he retained most of the original play, cause though the characters break into poetry at incongruous junctions in the movie, one can’t deny the beauty and truth in Ntozake’s words.
Lady in Yellow/Anika Noni Rose gave a most glorious performance. I loved the imagery of light, dance and joy which radiated through her from her first scene till post–rape when it felt like someone had switched off her light. I wept at that darkness cursing the rapist who had caused it.
Lady in Green/Loretta Devine’s relationship with an unreliable lover, her love-plants made me laugh and when she finally decided that her love was too precious, to be thrown in her face, I cheered.
Kimberly Elise’s Crystal suffered what no woman should ever go through while Phylicia Rashad was the real ‘Madea’- all seeing, all wise.
The weak links were Janet Jackson’s Jo, her gay husband, Whoopi’s fanatic character, Macy Gray as a scary alcoholic
butcher surgeon (I wouldn’t let a woman like that see my briefs talk of opening my legs for her to touch my womb!!). Coincidentally we have TP to thank for tacking on those characters to the original script.
Under more nuanced and less melodramatic directorship, FCG could have gotten an Oscar nod at least but with TP as screen play writer/director/producer, it is what it is. I would still recommend it - but be warned - the stories are not pretty.
Who has seen ‘Good Deeds?’ and what’s your fave TP movie?
Have a blessed Easter people!!