Movie news, reviews and more!









































i can do bad all by myself
I Can Do Bad All By Myself
Reviewer: Joanne Ross
Director/Writer: Tyler Perry
Cast: Tyler Perry, Taraji P. Henson, Adam Rodriguez, Brian J. White, Hope Olaide Wilson, Kwesi Boakye, Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige, Marvin Winana, Eric Mendenhall, David Paulus







Like him or hate him, there’s one thing about Tyler Perry no one can deny – the prolific writer/director delivers at the box office. His recent, Madea Goes to Jail grossed $41mm opening weekend. The same is true of his previous efforts Diary of a Mad Black Woman ($22mm) and Madea’s Family Reunion ($30mm).
This weekend he once again demonstrated his box office magic with I Can Do Bad All By Myself  which opened at #1 bringing in $21mm. What Perry has to say about Christian values, the importance of family, love, and personal responsibility to his predominantly African American audience he apparently says very well.
Arguably he’s less successful critically. He’s been criticized for among other things perpetuating negative African American stereotypes. For some, his humor is considered too low-brow, crude and unfunny. And he tends to juggle multiple storylines that shift so radically in tone and mood that they never come together as one cohesive whole. However, one fundamental characteristic of Perry’s style that everyone agrees on is that his brand of spiritually-tinged, formulaic melodrama comes with the usual cast of character types:  a troubled woman who’s lost her way; an abusive man; and a sensitive, too-good-to be true hero. Though his lead character April (Taraji P. Henson) is tougher and more independent than Perry’s usual put-upon heroines, they do share in common the challenge of embracing their Christian values to overcome their personal problems and learn to love and trust again.
To reinforce his message of the healing power of faith in0AGod, Perry infuses I Can Do Bad All By Myself with rousing gospel music numbers delivered by powerhouses Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige, and gospel singer Marvin Winans. I’m not a fan of gospel music myself, but even I was moved by the inspirational energy of their performances,  Music has always played an integral part in Perry films, but it usually served as background music. In this film, the music becomes another character in the story.
For Madea fans out there expecting to see a story featuring her antics, you will be disappointed. The feisty, gun-toting senior citizen has very little screen time. Taking center stage instead is the story of alcoholic night club singer April who unwillingly gets saddled with her deceased drug-addicted sister’s three children.
Perry doesn’t flinch from tackling the ugly problems of life in his movies. Issues like drug addition, domestic violence, and alcoholism represent the obstacles April must overcome. The problem is that here, as in his previous movies, these complex issues are too easily resolved, and all the loose threads are tied up neatly into a big, bright happy ending. It’s a little too sugar coated for my tastes.
Now, the good news is that Perry did make some e wise decisions. For starters, he focuses on one story, and so April’s journey – such as it is – builds in dramatic power because it isn’t diluted by additional, and sometimes ill-fitting, story lines. It may not be the most realistic or artistically realized story in the world, but it is a cohesive one.
However, his strongest asset lay in his talented cast, headed by Oscar nominee Henson. Perry made the right choice in casting the talented Henson. While there are a few scenes in which April’s angst seems a bit contrived, for the most part Henson brought raw power to her performance of the troubled singer.
But the one to watch out for is Hope Olaide Wilson who plays April’s teenage niece Jennifer. Wilson possesses an appealing naturalness that makes her character come across as genuine and touching. Wilson thankfully avoids acting clichés and manufactured gestures. Instead she summons up craft and emotions to convey Jennifer’s deep emotional scars lying underneath her tough exterior. The tears coursing down her cheeks tell you this is a child who has survived her share of hard knocks.
Unfortunately, Perry’s comedy/melodrama20formula is wearing thin, as is Madea’s  irreverent put-down humor. For Perry to grow, he needs to play a different tune, because we have seen and heard all this stuff before.*-JR