Monday, September 14, 2009


Written & Directed by Tyler Perry

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. September 13, 2009, 8:05PM

First, let me say I am very proud and very happy of the success of Tyler Perry. He is a self made man who achieved success on his own terms and without the interference of Hollywood. He is also responsible for giving starring roles to several talented but underused African-American actors as well as introducing new actors to audiences who may not have gotten an opportunity through conventional, narrow minded Hollywood producers.

Now having said that, all I can say about Mr. Perry's latest film, "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" is that I really enjoyed the musical numbers by Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige and Pastor Winans, the terrific performance of Taraji P. Henson and Madea is always good for a few laughs. Oh, and Adam Rodriguez and his dazzling smile. The rest of the film left me unimpressed and very bored. To be honest, I have felt that way about most of Mr. Perry's films. I find his films to be nothing more than skits loosely tied together to try and create a plot. This is fine for television but it is not a film. Or at least my idea of a film. I like to see some effort to try and create something as fresh as possible and not simply travel down a too familiar and too obvious path.

We begin with Madea (Tyler Perry) sound asleep when she hears someone breaking in to her house. Bad move. Very bad move. She wakes her husband, Joe (also Tyler Perry) and they go downstairs to confront the thieves. The "thieves" turns out to be three young children, Jennifer (Hope Olaide Wilson) and her younger brothers. Madea wants to know why they are stealing but they aren't talking but Madea has a way of getting answers. She finds out that their grandmother who takes care of them has disappeared for four days and they were only stealing to get money to buy food.

Madea finds their only other relative, April (Taraji P. Henson) who is their aunt. She just got home from her job as a nightclub singer and she can't be bothered with them. All she wants to do is go back to sleep. Madea wants to be reimbursed for the VCR that Jennifer broke during the attempted robbery. April has no intention of paying even if she had some money but Madea agrees to have the kids work off their debt by cleaning her home.

April reluctantly lets the kids stay at her home until she can find her mother. April is certainly not maternal and has zero interest in taking care of some body's children even if they are relatives. She is much too busy drinking heavily and keeping company with a mean and repulsive married man, Randy (Brian J. White).

After April tries to go back to bed, Paster Brian (Marvin Winans) comes to the house. He tells her he has a young man who has just arrived from South America and needs a place to stay. He can do repairs around her house in exchange for a room. April agrees just to get him out and she can go back to sleep.

As soon as her head hits the pillow, there is another knock at the door. There stands the handy man, Manny (Adam Rodriguez) who also happens to be very easy on the eyes. She sets him up in the basement and now her house is full of uninvited guests. Manny bonds with the kids and becomes a kind of surrogate father to them. April also develops an attraction for Manny but fights to resist those feelings.

April soon learns that her mother has passed away and she is racked with guilt over not speaking to her mother in years because of a disagreement. Randy is of no comfort but Manny is there for her with open arms. April's life is a mess and cannot possibly raise children, so she decides to put her niece and nephews in foster care. The kids and Manny beg her not to do it but April is torn and she doesn't know what to do.

I'm not giving anything away by saying that this film ends with a happy conclusion since that was made very clear since the beginning of the film. There is no real suspense and the dramatic moments are all very predictable. "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" might have been better played strictly for laughs.

I really wish I could praise the work of Mr. Perry but I always find myself disappointed after every film I have seen. I realize there is an audience and a definite need for his type of films but I guess it is lost on me. I have heard that he is going to next tackle the 1976 play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf". I am slightly concerned what he will do with the piece but I am also hoping for the best.