Showing posts with label Madea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Madea. Show all posts

Friday, February 9, 2024

Review: "A MADEA HOMECOMING" Doesn't Come Out Quite Right

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 6 of 2024 (No. 1950) by Leroy Douresseaux

A Madea Homecoming (2022)
Running time:  105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPA – PG-13 for crude sexual content, language, and drug references throughout
PRODUCERS:  Will Areu and Mark E. Swinton
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Taylor Randall (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Larry Sexton
COMPOSER:  Philip White


Starring:  Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, David Mann, Tamela J. Mann, Gabrielle Dennis, Brendan O'Carroll, Jennifer Gibney, Brandon Black, Isha Blaaker, Candace Maxwell, Geneva Maccarone, and Amani Atkinson

A Madea Homecoming is a 2022 African-American comedy-drama from writer-director Tyler Perry.  It is the 12th film in the Madea film series.  The film is a Netflix original and was released to the streaming service on February 25, 2022.  In A Madea Homecoming, family drama erupts and secrets are revealed during the celebration of Madea's great-grandson's college graduation.

A Madea Homecoming opens in Atlanta, GeorgiaMabel “Madea” Simmons (Tyler Perry) is preparing for the arrival of her extended family.  Uncle Joe (Tyler Perry) is criticizing people, and Mr. Brown (David Mann) is about to set himself afire while preparing the barbecue pit.  It is a special time for Madea's daughter, Cora Simmons (Tamela J. Mann), because of the impending arrival of her daughters, Laura (Gabrielle Dennis) and Ellie (Candace Maxwell).  Laura's son, Timothy “Tim” Marshall (Brandon Black), is graduating from college.  He is traveling to Madea's house with his best friend and fellow graduate, Davi O'Malley (Isha Blaaker), for a large family dinner before graduation day.

But there are some surprises arriving, also.  Tim has a secret to tell his family.  Laura has a secret.  Laura's divorce attorney, Sylvia (Geneva Maccarone), has a secret.  Richard (Amani Atkinson), Laura's ex and Tim's father, has a secret to tell, although Madea doesn't want him at her house.  Davi has a secret.  Davi's great-aunt, Agnes Brown (Brendan O'Carroll), and Agnes' daughter and David's cousin, Cathy Brown (Jennifer Gibney), have a secret.  They're coming to Madea's, but they weren't invited.  And it isn't a secret that Betty Ann Murphy a.k.a. “Aunt Bam” (Cassi Davis) is usually high, and everyone else may have to get high to make it through the family drama that is about to erupt.

2019's A Madea Family Funeral was supposed to be the final film in the Madea film series, but I ain't complaining.  A Madea Homecoming is similar to A Madea Family Funeral in that it features a large cast of new extended family members that many of us didn't know that Madea had.  Unfortunately, the 2019 film is better put together than A Madea Homecoming.

First, it should be noted that A Madea Homecoming is a crossover with British-Irish sitcom, “Mrs. Brown's Boys,” which is headlined by the character, “Agnes Brown,” played by Irish actor, Brendan O'Carroll.  Agnes Brown has been called the “Irish Madea,” but because this is my first encounter with O'Carroll and his character, I can't say otherwise.  Truthfully, neither the Agnes nor Cathy characters really add that much to A Madea Homecoming, but they are a pleasant addition, at least.

A Madea Homecoming has many, many very funny moments, but the film seems too long and too much of a rehash of scandals that have appeared in earlier films in the series.  The main plot and subplot feel more flat and dry than lively and funny.  The most consistently funny part of this movie is Madea Beyoncé parody that runs over the end credits, and Madea in a blonde Beyoncé wig singing off-key with the “Marcella Band” is delightful.

When I reviewed A Madea Family Funeral in 2021, I said that if it were indeed the final Madea film, I could say that the series went out on a relatively high note.  Madea returns on an off-key note with A Madea Homecoming, and it isn't the final Madea film.  Coming sometime in the future is Madea's Destination Wedding.

5 of 10
★★½ out of 4 stars

Friday, February 9, 2024

The text is copyright © 2024 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Friday, February 12, 2021

#28DaysofBlack Review: "A Madea Family Funeral"

[I could not imagine committing to a focus on black films and not offer at least one film from media mogul, Tyler Perry.  Within a decade, Perry became a successful performer and producer of stage plays.  He entered the film business with his 2005 film, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” and owned a film production studio, Tyler Perry Studios, by 2006.  Perry's signature character, Mabel "Madea" Earlene Simmons, has played a significant part in Perry's rags to riches story, and he apparently brought the film saga of Madea to an end with “A Madea Family Funeral.”]

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 13 of 2021 (No. 1751) by Leroy Douresseaux

A Madea Family Funeral (2019)
Running time:  109 minutes (1 hour, 49 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for crude sexual content, language, and drug references throughout
PRODUCERS:  Ozzie Areu, Will Areu, Tyler Perry, and Mark E. Swinton
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Richard Vialet (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Larry Sexton
COMPOSER:  Philip White


Starring:  Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Jen Harper, Courtney Burrell, Ciera Payton, Rome Flynn, KJ Smith, Aeriél Miranda, David Otunga, Quin Walters, Ary Katz, and Derek Morgan

A Madea Family Funeral is a 2019 comedy-drama from writer-director Tyler Perry.  It is the eleventh and (supposedly) final film in the Madea film series.  A Madea Family Funeral focuses on an anniversary celebration that unexpectedly turns into a funeral that unveils unsavory family secrets.

A Madea Family Funeral opens in the home of Vianne (Jen Harper) and Anthony Thompson (Derek Morgan).  Their children are planning a surprise party to celebrate their parents' 40th wedding anniversary.  Sylvia (Ciera Payton) is with her husband, Will (David Otunga).  Carol (KJ Smith), who is married to older brother, A.J. (Courtney Burrell), is awaiting his arrival.  Younger brother, Jesse (Rome Flynn), is awaiting the arrival of his fiancé, Gia (Aeriél Miranda).

Meanwhile Mabel “Madea” Simmons (Tyler Perry), Uncle Joe (Tyler Perry), Betty Ann Murphy a.k.a. “Aunt Bam” (Cassi Davis), Hattie (Patrice Lovely), and Joe's son, Brian Simmons (Tyler Perry), are also traveling to the reunion.  Vianne and Anthony's family is also the family of Madea and Joe's brother, Heathrow (Tyler Perry), a lecherous, wheelchair bound Vietnam veteran.

Not long after Madea and company arrive at their hotel, they discover that A.J. is also there with Gia, with whom he is having an affair.  Even more shocking is that they discover that Anthony is in a room next to A.J. and Gia's and is engaged in kinky sex with Renee (Quin Walters), a friend of both Vianne and Anthony's.  Anthony suffers a heart attack from the sexual activity and is taken to a hospital where he dies.

Now, Madea is charged with planning Anthony's funeral, which Vianne wants to occur in two days.  In the meantime, Anthony's secret life and the secrets of his two sons threaten to spill over.

A Madea Family Funeral qualifies as a dramatic film because of the secrets and lies and melodrama that apparently have long been a part of Vianne and Anthony's family.  Writer-director Tyler Perry deals with this the way he normally does – with soap opera, gospel theatrics, and Christian philosophizing.  Still, this family drama is pretty dark, and I do credit Perry for once again telling a story about mothers who make tough choices in order to provide for, to protect, and to keep their families together.  What might seem like weakness and stupidity might actually be strength and practicality.

A Madea Family Funeral is a comedy because of … well, because of Madea, Joe, Aunt Bam, and Hattie.  I have to be honest; I think much of the humor in this film as being an inappropriate match for the dramatic side of this film.  Still, I found myself vigorously laughing through more than half this film.  In a way, Anthony's funeral becomes a hilarious nightmare, both because of the unsavory family secrets and because of Madea and company.  But, hell, sometimes laughter helps a family get through a funeral, especially a hot mess of a death and funeral like Anthony's.

If A Madea Family Funeral is indeed the final Madea film, I can say that it went out on a relatively high note.  Perry gives us his trademark Christian moralizing, and Madea gives us the shameless, shameful comedy.  Truthfully, only Tyler Perry could be Madea, so there can be no other true Madea films unless he makes them.  So I hope A Madea Family Funeral doesn't put the Madea film franchise to rest.

7 of 10

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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Friday, May 1, 2020

Review: "BOO! 2: A Madea Halloween" is a Typical Inferior Sequel

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 8 (of 2020) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (2017)
Running time:  101 minutes
MPAA – PG-13 for sexual references drug content, language and some horror images
PRODUCERS:  Ozzie Areu, Will Areu, Tyler Perry, and Mark E. Swinton
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Richard Vialet (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Larry Sexton
COMPOSER:  Philip White


Starring:  Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Yousef Erakat, Diamond White, Lexy Panterra, Andre Hall, Brock O'Hurn, Tito Ortiz, Taja V. Simpson, Inanna Sarkis, Hannah Stocking, Mike Tornabene, Akende Munalula, and Elizabeth Hinkler and Emily Hinkler

Boo 2! A Madea Halloween is a 2017 comedy and Halloween movie from writer-director Tyler Perry.  It is a direct sequel to Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016) and is also the tenth film in the Madea film series.  In Boo 2!, Madea and friends travel to a supposedly haunted campground to rescue a teen relative, but end up running for their lives from the boogeyman.

Boo 2! A Madea Halloween opens on the 18th birthday of Tiffany Simmons (Diamond White).  Tiffany is the daughter of Brian Simmons (Tyler Perry) and his ex-wife, Debrah (Taja V. Simpson).  Tiffany wants to be treated like an adult, which is just fine with Debrah and her new husband, Calvin (Akende Munalula).  However, Brian still sees Tiffany as a baby girl, and he has planned for Tiffany a birthday party that is more appropriate for a child.

Brian's aunt, Mabel “Madea” Simmons (Tyler Perry); Brian's father who is also Madea's brother, Joe Simmons (Tyler Perry); Betty Ann “Aunt Bam” Murphy (Cassi Davis); and Hattie Mae Love (Patrice Lovely) also attend the party.  Unhappy with the party and the guests, Tiffany and her friend, Gabriella (Inanna Sarkis), make plans to attend a late-night Halloween party being thrown by Jonathan (Yousef Erakat) and the brothers of Upsilon Theta fraternity.  However, the party is being thrown at the notorious and supposedly haunted campground at “Lake Derrick.”

Madea overhears Tiffany's Lake Derrick plans and alerts her father, Brian, who decides to let Tiffany attend the party just to teach her lesson.  Madea is unwilling to let it go at that, so she rounds up Joe, Bam, and Hattie to take a trip to Lake Derrick and rescue Tiffany and Gabriella from that Halloween party.  However, it is Madea and company who will find themselves needing to be rescued from a chainsaw wielding maniac, ghostly sisters, and assorted monsters.

I am playing catch-up on my Madea movies, as this film was released almost two-and-a-half years ago, and the (allegedly) last Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral (2019), was released a year ago.  When I reviewed Boo! A Madea Halloween back in 2017, I wrote that the film had “its moments,” and I gave it a grade of “B-.”  Since that review, I have seen the film countless times, and it has become one of my favorite Madea movies and one of my favorite Halloween movies.  If I graded the original film now, I would give it at least an “A-.”

Boo 2! A Madea Halloween actually has its moments.  The first hour of the film has an awkward pace, and that hour is not well-written.  Early on, Boo 2! seems like nothing more than a quickly-produced sequel meant to grab cash from a surprise hit movie.  The final forty minutes of t Boo 2! really picks up, and it gets close to being as funny as the original film.

So if you did not get enough Boo! A Madea Halloween and want a little more, you have Boo 2! A Madea Halloween.  And if you need to see every Madea movie, then, you will want to see Boo 2!  If you don't like Madea, well...

5 of 10

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Review: First "Boo! A Madea Halloween" Not One of the Better Madea Movies

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 20 (of 2017) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016)
Running time:  104 minutes (1 hour, 44 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for drug use and references, suggestive content, language, some horror images and thematic material
PRODUCERS:  Ozzie Areu, Tyler Perry, and Will Areu
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Richard Vialet (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Larry Sexton
COMPOSER:  Elvin Ross


Starring:  Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Bella Thorne, Yousef Erakat, Lexy Panterra, Andre Hall, Brock O'Hurn, Liza Koshy, Diamond White, Mike Tornabene, Javan Johnson, Angela Ray, and Tyga

Boo! A Madea Halloween is a 2016 comedy and Halloween movie from writer-director Tyler Perry.  The idea for this film originated from a fictitious Madea Halloween movie (entitled “Boo!”) that was referenced several times in writer-director Chris Rock's film, Top Five (2014).  In Boo! A Madea Halloween, Madea fends off noisy spirits and evil clowns while keeping an eye on two high school girls who want to party with a gang of college frat boys.

Boo! A Madea Halloween begins about mid-day on Halloween.  At Upsilon Theta college fraternity house. Jonathan (Yousef Erakat), the fraternity leader, and his fellow fraternity brothers are finalizing plans for their big Halloween party for that night.  The brothers take notice of 17-year-old Tiffany Simmons (Diamond White) and her three friends, 17-year-old Aday (Liza Koshy), 18-year-old Rain (Bella Thorne) and 18-year-old Leah (Lexy Panterra), as they walk past their fraternity house.  Jonathan invites the four teens to their party.

However, Tiffany's father, Brian Simmons (Tyler Perry), does not want Tiffany and Aday to attend the party because, at the age of 17, they are too young to be partying with college-age young men.  Sensing that his daughter will disobey him, Brian convinces his aunt, Mabel “Madea” Simmons (Tyler Perry), to stay at his house and babysit Tiffany.  Madea's brother, Joe Simmons (Tyler Perry), who is Brian's father; marijuana aficionado, Betty Ann “Aunt Bam” Murphy (Cassi Davis); and Joe's lover, Hattie Mae Love (Patrice Lovely), tag along.

Madea is strict, but Tiffany proves to be more stubborn and also craftier than Madea expects.  When she discovers that Tiffany and Aday have indeed gone to the fraternity party, Madea is ready to deal out some punishment; instead, this pugnacious matron will spend a haunted Halloween dealing with ghosts, goblins, ghouls, poltergeists, zombies, and killer clowns.

Boo! A Madea Halloween has its moments.  It is a Madea movie after all, and if you enjoy the antics of Tyler Perry's most beloved character, Mabel “Madea” Simmons, you will find something or some things to like about Boo! A Madea Halloween.  However, it is the weakest “Madea-verse” movie since Meet the Browns (2008), in which Madea only made a cameo appearance.

I like Boo!'s young and diverse cast, although I wish the characters lived up to the energy brought by the young actors.  The youthful energy is needed because characters that are old favorites have worn out their welcome; Aunt Bam, I'm looking at you.  And Uncle Joe isn't at his best here.

This isn't one of Tyler Perry's better efforts at playing Madea, but there is a gem or two here (such as Madea in church, wanting to be “saved”).  It is only a passable Halloween movie.  That said, I want more Madea and there is a sequel to Boo!, due this fall.  So, it is fair to say that Boo! A Madea Halloween is strictly for Madea fans.

5 of 10

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The text is copyright © 2017 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Review: "A Madea Christmas" a Funny and Odd Christmas Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 56 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas (2013)
Running time:  100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sexual references, crude humor and language
DIRECTOR:  Tyler Perry
WRITER:  Tyler Perry (based on the stage play, A Madea Christmas, written by Tyler Perry)
PRODUCERS:  Ozzie Areu, Tyler Perry, and Matt Moore
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Alexander Gruszynski (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Maysie Hoy
COMPOSER:  Christopher Young


Starring:  Tyler Perry, Larry the Cable Guy, Anna Maria Horsford, Tika Sumpter, Eric Lively, JR Lemon, Kathy Najimy, Chad Michael Murray, Alicia Witt, Noah Urrea, and Lucy Whelchel

A Madea Christmas is a 2013 comedy, drama, and Christmas movie from writer-director Tyler Perry.  The film is based on Perry's musical play, A Madea Christmas, which was first performed in 2011.  A Madea Christmas the movie finds Madea in rural Alabama after being coaxed into helping a relative pay her daughter a surprise visit for Christmas.

As A Madea Christmas begins, Mabel “Madea” Simmons (Tyler Perry) is working at Tifton's department store for some extra Christmas cash, thanks to her niece, Eileen Murphy (Anna Maria Horsford), who works at the store.  Eileen is sad that her daughter, Lacey (Tika Sumpter), is living in the small town of Bucktussle, Alabama, and she wants to visit her.  Eileen coaxes Madea into accompanying her for a surprise Christmas visit.

What Eileen does not realize is that her daughter is now Lacey Williams and is married to her college sweetheart, Conner Williams (Eric Lively).  Lacey is not ready to tell her mother that she is married to a White man, but may be forced to when Eileen and Madea arrive.  Also arriving at Lacey and Conner's doorstep are Conner's parents, Kim and Buddy Williams (Kathy Najimy and Larry the Cable Guy).

A Madea Christmas is an odd entry in Tyler Perry's Madea film series.  First, the film deals, in a fluffy way, with racism, and is also set in a town and area that is largely white.  With its mushy sentiment, soft-focused racial harmony, and easy pace,  A Madea Christmas seems like an original holiday movie for either the Lifetime or Hallmark cable networks.

I found this film enjoyable and comfy, and although Madea does dispense her usual unique brand of wisdom, the film is not as preachy as previous Madea films.  A Madea Christmas' dominant theme seems to be that parents should accept that their children will live the lives the children choose and not the ones the parents want.  There is also a subplot about a sensitive and talented boy, Bailey McCoy (Noah Urrea), whose father, Tanner McCoy (Chad Michael Murray), is a racist and a bully (but not really in an especially offensive way).  This subplot encapsulates how A Madea Christmas goes out of its way not to offend or scare white audiences.

I don't think that A Madea Christmas will be a Christmas classic, but it is definitely a different kind of Christmas movie.  I found it to be quiet funny at times, and I plan on seeing it again.

6 of 10

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Razzie Awards:  1 win: “Worst Actress” (Tyler Perry); 4 nominations: “Worst Picture,” “Worst Supporting Actor” (Larry the Cable Guy), “Worst Screen Combo” (Tyler Perry, Larry the Cable Guy, Tyler Perry & EITHER Larry the Cable Guy OR That Worn-Out Wig & Dress), and “Worst Screenplay” (Tyler Perry)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Review: "Madea's Witness Protection" is The Lighter Side of Madea

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 53 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Madea’s Witness Protection (2012)
Running time: 114 minutes (1 hour, 54 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some crude sexual remarks and brief drug references
PRODUCERS: Ozzie Areu, Paul Hall, and Tyler Perry
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alexander Gruszynski
EDITOR: Maysie Hoy
COMPOSER: Aaron Zigman


Starring: Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy, Denise Richards, Doris Roberts, Romeo Miller, Danielle Campbell, Devan Leos, Jeff Joslin, John Amos, Marla Gibbs, and Tom Arnold

Madea’s Witness Protection is a 2012 comedy from writer/director/producer, Tyler Perry. This is also the 13th film in the Tyler Perry film franchise (the twelfth that Perry has directed). In Madea’s Witness Protection, super-grandmother Mabel “Madea” Simmons shelters a businessman and his family in her home after the mob targets them.

George Needleman (Eugene Levy) is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the charity division at Lockwise Industries, but all goes bad when George learns that his boss, Walter (Tom Arnold), is running a mob-backed Ponzi scheme. Soon, George and his family: wife Kate (Denise Richards), daughter Cindy (Danielle Campbell), and son Howie (Devan Leos) leave New York City for Atlanta. There, George cooperates with Brian Simmons (Tyler Perry), an assistant district attorney investigating Lockwise’s criminal connections. The Needlemans need a place to stay that isn’t a normal part of the witness protection program.

Enter Brian’s aunt, Madea (Tyler Perry), who reluctantly opens her home to the Needlemans. Brian’s father, Joe (Tyler Perry), even discovers that he has a past connection with George’s mother, Barbara (Doris Roberts). The Needlemans’ problems, however, extend beyond George’s work troubles. Will they find that help in Madea’s wild and crazy southern home?

Tyler Perry’s Madea movies usually have two dominate plots or storylines. First, there is the storyline that depicts the antics of Madea the co-lead. The second is a melodrama, usually focusing on a female character who struggles to overcome a number of external obstacles and internal conflicts. Madea’s Witness Protection does not follow that formula. Madea’s antics are directly tied to the second main character, which is George Needleman. George’s story cannot move forward without Madea, so this is truly a “Madea movie.” It is also a bit of a stretch to sell Levy (who is 65 as I write this) as a 52-year-old man, which is George’s age. Otherwise, Levy does his usual schtick as the pitiful, put-upon, straight-laced white guy to polished perfection.

Tyler Perry in this triple role as Madea, Joe, and Brian is on automatic, although he plays Brian with self-assuredness that I don’t remember seeing before this movie. His performance as both Madea and Joe is also smoother than in earlier films. The Madea of Madea’s Witness Protection is also a lot less overbearing, not as rough, and less edgy than in films like Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea’s Family Reunion. Joe is also a lot less vulgar, not quite the dirty old man, and is certainly less untidy that in earlier films.

Madea’s Witness Protection features a Madea that is cuddlier, if such a thing is possible. She’s like a Motown spit-shine on some hollerin’ blues. She will still knock you out, but she’s ready to give you a hug and for her place in the mainstream. Madea’s Witness Protection is good, and Madea is as funny and as crazy as ever. Are we ready, however, for a Madea who goes down so smoothly?

6 of 10

Sunday, July 01, 2012


Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Madea's Big Happy Family" a Big Happy Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 76 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Madea’s Big Happy Family (2011)
Running time: 106 minutes (1 hour, 46 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 drug content, language and some mature thematic material
DIRECTOR: Tyler Perry
WRITER: Tyler Perry (based upon his play)
PRODUCERS: Roger M. Bobb, Reuben Cannon, and Tyler Perry
EDITOR: Maysie Hoy


Starring: Tyler Perry, Loretta Devine, Cassi Davis, Shannon Kane, Isaiah Mustafa, Natalie Desselle Reid, Rodney Perry, Tamela J. Mann, David Mann, Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, Teyana Taylor, Lauren London, Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, and Maury Povich

Madea’s Big Happy Family is a 2011 comedy/drama and is also the 11th film in the Tyler Perry film franchise. Based upon Perry’s play of the same title, Madea’s Big Happy Family finds super-grandmother Mabel “Madea” Simmons coming to the rescue of her dying niece and her big unhappy family.

Madea’s niece, Shirley (Loretta Devine), is dying of cancer, and she wants to bring her three children: Byron (Bow Wow), Tammy (Natalie Desselle Reid), and Kimberley (Shannon Kane) together to tell them the bad news. However, her two daughters are in the midst of awful marital discord with their husbands. Byron is having major baby mama drama from his ex, Sabrina (Teyana Taylor), and his money-hungry girlfriend, Renee (Lauren London), wants him to return to a life of crime.

Betty Ann Murphy, better known as the rambunctious Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis), pleads with Madea (Tyler Perry) to help bring Shirley’s children together. Madea decides to do it her way, with tough love and fists (if she has to) and a little laughter along the way. However, Madea has family drama of her own, with her baby daddy, Brown (David Mann), and their daughter, Cora (Tamela J. Mann).

As Madea movies go, Madea’s Big Happy Family is probably the one that most mixes the somberness and the outlandishness found in Tyler Perry’s movie starring or featuring Madea. The conflicts and confusion that surrounds Shirley’s family may seem over-the-top, but I can attest to directly experiencing or being familiar with some of this family’s problems. Besides, the actors give such tight, authentic performances that nothing their characters do really seems hysterical and contrived, which are occasional sins of Mr. Perry the screenwriter. Shad Moss, better known as the rapper, Bow Wow, delivers a surprisingly strong performance, subtle and graceful in some places. That is a trait not found in many rapper-turned-actors.

The craziness that ensues between Madea, Cora, and Brown is indeed funny – some of funniest Madea stuff since Madea’s Family Reunion. Perry deftly uses Madea’s no-nonsense approach to issues of life, death, pain, and general crisis to cloak some truth’s that a lot of people need to hear, especially members of the African-American audience under 40 years old. You would not be wrong to think that Madea’s Big Happy Family is Perry’s most potent message delivery system. If you get tired to the preaching, Madea, Cora, and Brown offer some excellent comic set pieces.

This film’s glaring weakness is the Shirley character. Ostensibly the lynchpin for a testy family reunion, Shirley is merely a prop or conversation piece that keeps the other characters’ roles advancing from one scene to the next. That is disappointing on a number of levels, one of them being that it robs Loretta Devine of a chance to show her range. Still, Madea’s Big Happy Family is a rousing success. The messages of a loving God, hope, love, self-respect, and respect for others go down smoothly in this spoonful of sweet medicine.

7 of 10

Saturday, September 03, 2011


Review: "I Can Do Bad All by Myself" Does All Good for Itself

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 10 (of 2009) by Leroy Douresseaux

I Can Do Bad All by Myself (2009)
Running time: 113 minutes (1 hour, 53 minutes)
MPAA- PG-13 for mature thematic material involving a sexual assault on a minor, violence, drug references and smoking
DIRECTOR: Tyler Perry
WRITER: Tyler Perry (based upon his play)
PRODUCERS: Tyler Perry and Reuben Cannon
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alexander Gruszynski
EDITOR: Maysie Hoy
Image Award winner

DRAMA/MUSIC with elements of comedy and romance

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Adam Rodrigeuz, Brian J. White, Hope Olaide Wilson, Kwesi Boakye, Frederick Siglar, Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige, Marvin Winans, and Tyler Perry

One could make the argument that every Tyler Perry movie seems to be made from the same stencil or template. There are the good women and the bad men they love (Madea’s Family Reunion). There are also the good men and the troubled women they try to save (Madea Goes to Jail). And there are always those who need to go back to church because they don’t know which way is up (Daddy’s Little Girls). Of course, there is usually room for the unsinkable matriarch Madea, and her brother and housemate, the un-politically correct, Joe. Perry’s new film, I Can Do Bad All by Myself (based upon his play) distills the essence of Perry’s oeuvre into its most perfect form to date.

After the pistol-packing Madea (Tyler Perry) catches three siblings breaking into her home, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Madea marches 16-year-old Jennifer (Hope Olaide Wilson) and her two younger brothers, Manny (Kwesi Boakye) and Byron (Frederick Siglar), to the only relative she can find – their Aunt April (Taraji P. Henson), a hard-living, heavy-drinking nightclub singer. April lives off her married boyfriend, Randy (Brian J. White). Already having several children of his own, Randy doesn’t want April’s niece and nephews around, and April certainly doesn’t think her dead crackhead sister’s children are her problem.

Fate, however, brings Sandino (Adam Rodriguez) into April’s life. The handsome Mexican immigrant is looking for work, so the local Pastor Brian (Marvin Winans) asks April to allow Sandino to move into her basement room in exchange for doing handiwork. The hard-luck immigrant challenges April to open her heart, which forces her to make the biggest choice of her life. Will she keep Randy and her old ways or will she choose the new possibilities for life that taking in her niece and nephew offer?

Why do I think that I Can Do Bad All by Myself is the best Tyler Perry movie? I think this film’s strength is based on the performances of its cast. The script isn’t anything particularly special, at least in the context of Perry’s other writing. The motivations for their actions and explanations for what ails the characters in this film are the usual ingredients for a Tyler Perry psychodrama: alcohol, childhood sexual abuse, drug use, and not going to church.

It is a performance like the one given by Taraji P. Henson that allows I Can Do Bad All by Myself to soar as a film about triumph and redemption. Henson is such a natural that whatever character she plays comes across as honest and authentic. In her performance, the audience can buy April, in spite of whatever contrivances Perry fashions for that character’s past. Henson also deftly executes her skills so that she can amplify the comedic moments even in the midst of the intense drama of this film. For instance, there is pathos and merriment in the scene in which Madea first confronts April with her niece and nephews. This scene defines I Can Do Bad All by Myself’s attitude that there is joy even the darkest times in life. Using laughter, Perry and his star give the audience a chance to step back and take a different look at this pivotal moment in the film.

There are other good performances. Brian J. White as the philandering husband and boyfriend, Randy, is exquisite, and Adam Rodriguez alternately simmers and shines as Sandino, the do-the-right-thing handyman. I would be remiss if I failed to mention Hope Olaide Wilson as April’s fierce and stubborn niece, Jennifer, a character that is essentially a younger version of her aunt. It is a testament to young Miss Wilson’s talent that she could present Jennifer as being destined to follow April’s sad path in life without it seeming contrived.

It also doesn’t hurt to have two of the best ever rhythm and blues and soul singers, Gladys Knight and Mary J. Blige, belting out a few songs, giving the kind of vocal performances that will raise the roof and then knock down the walls. It is these performances that make I Can Do Bad All by Myself the standout drama, thus far, in Tyler Perry’s filmography and a movie not to be missed.

8 of 10

Sunday, October 04, 2009

2010 Black Reel Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Actress” (Taraji P. Henson) and “Best Song, Original or Adapted” (Mary J. Blige for the song "I Can Do Bad All By Myself")

2010 Image Awards: 1 win: “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” (Adam Rodriguez); 2 nominations: “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture” (Taraji P. Henson) and “Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture-Theatrical or Television” (Tyler Perry)


Review: "Madea Goes to Jail" a Message-Heavy Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 6 (of 2009) by Leroy Douresseaux

Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail (2009)
Running time: 103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for mature thematic material, drug content, some violence, and sexual situations
PRODUCERS: Tyler Perry and Reuben Cannon
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alexander Gruszynski (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Maysie Hoy


Starring: Tyler Perry, Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pullman, David Mann, Tamela J. Mann, RonReaco Lee, Ion Overman, Vanessa Ferlito, Viola Davis, Sofia Vergara, and Robin Coleman

In the seventh Tyler Perry movie (the sixth Perry has directed), his most popular character, the matriarch Mabel “Madea” Simmons, finally lands in jail in the film, Madea Goes to Jail. Madea’s commotions aside, this film’s primary focus is on the efforts of an up and coming attorney to save a former classmate from a life of drug addiction and prostitution.

A high speed car chase lands Madea (performed by Tyler Perry in drag) on the steps of the jail, but a technicality allows her another in a long line of reprieves. However, Madea’s anger management issues lead to an outrageous act of violence that finally earns her a stiff prison sentence. Madea’s eccentric family, including her daughter, Cora (Tamela J. Mann), and Cora's father, Brown (David Mann), rally behind her and lead the effort to free Madea.

Meanwhile, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Hardaway (Derek Luke), who is on the fast track to career success, reunites with an old friend, Candace Washington (Keshia Knight Pullman), who is a drug addict and prostitute known to customers and colleagues as “Candy.” Joshua is determined to get Candy cleaned up, off drugs, and off the streets, but they share a dark secret from their past, which seems to hamper efforts to heal Candy. Joshua’s fiancé and fellow ADA, Linda Davis (Ion Overman) is simply enraged at Joshua’s efforts to help Candy, and she plots to permanently separate the two.

Like Tyler Perry’s other films, Madea Goes to Jail is filled with broad comedy (quite a bit of it slapstick), Christian themes, and principles of forgiveness, healing, and redemption, but of all of his films, this is one comes across as the most shallow in its message. Perry’s films, by his own admission, are more than just entertainment; they are message films, so criticizing them on the basis on that message or how the message is delivered is legitimate.

Madea Goes to Jail is Perry’s most polished effort to date, in terms of technical and craft aspects of filmmaking. The direction is smooth, and Perry has cast a group of highly-qualified and veteran actors. These actors bring a sense of weighty drama to this occasionally very dark movie. When this movie was first released earlier this year (2009), much was made of former child star, Keshia Knight Pulliam’s turn as a drug-addicted prostitute. This faux controversy about Pulliam (who played Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show) missed the truth of the excellent dramatic performance given by the underestimated Pulliam – not to mention that such criticism missed excellent dramatic turns by Derek Luke and the recently Oscar-nominated Viola Davis (Doubt).

What Madea Goes to Jail should be criticized for is its ultimately dishonest and shallow message to its audience, in particularly Black women whose lives are in shambles because of drug addiction and because of past and present physical, mental, and sexual abuse. They suffer such abuse at the hands of loved ones. Madea Goes to Jail is actually a great film until the last 15 minutes or so. Tyler Perry is good at depicting suffering and anguish, but not as good when he suggests methods of healing. It is during the last 15 minutes of Madea Goes to Jail that Tyler Perry, as he rushes to tie everything in a feel-really-good, happy-ending bow, offers Christian platitudes (such as forgiveness) and self-help bromides as the cure for deep-rooted ills. When life gives you lemons, you make Jesus-flavored lemonade? I don’t think so.

I don’t begrudge Perry his happy endings, but if he must send messages, he is going to have to think seriously about the social and personal issues that he makes the centerpieces of his films. If he is going to offer answers and solutions, they should be more than “forgive and forget.” Otherwise, Madea Goes to Jail is an entertaining, at times exceptionally entertaining, film. But it could have been a truly important film.

7 of 10

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2010 Black Reel Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Supporting Actor” (Derek Luke)


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review: "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" Funny and True

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 103 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
Running time: 116 minutes (1 hour, 56 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for drug content, thematic elements, crude sexual references, and some violence
DIRECTOR: Darren Grant
WRITER: Tyler Perry (based upon his play)
PRODUCERS: Reuben Cannon and Tyler Perry
EDITOR: Terilyn A. Shropshire

DRAMA/COMEDY/RELIGIOUS (CHRISTIAN) with elements of romance

Starring: Kimberly Elise, Steve Harris, Tyler Perry, Shemar Moore, Cicely Tyson, Tamara Taylor, Lisa Marcos, Tiffany Evans, and Judge Mablean Ephriam

On the surface, Helen McCarter (Kimberly Elise) seemingly has the perfect life, living in a big mansion with her husband Charles McCarter (Steve Harris), a powerful Atlanta attorney, but even she knows that trouble is also bubbling beneath that same surface. All of a sudden Charles wants a divorce, and he kicks her out of their home on the eve of their 18th wedding anniversary and replaces her with a woman who has, unbeknownst to Helen, had two children for Charles. Helen is forced to return to “the ghetto,” where she finds refuge with the relatives Charles made her give up long ago because they didn’t fit in with his new high, life style. Helen finds solace and some comedy in the tragedy of her life through the insane antics of her pot smoking, gun toting, and much beloved grandmother figure, Madea (Tyler Perry). Helen also reunites with her mother, Myrtle (Cicely Tyson) , meets a new man, Orlando (Shemar Moore), and begins to keep a journal of her trial, tribulations, and recovery – The Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Tyler Perry has made a name and a fortune for himself (after being homeless early in his career) with his black southern gospel theatre stage plays – six of them going back to 2000. Diary of a Mad Black Woman was first staged in 2001, and a recording of the Diary stage performance became part of a hit DVD series of Tyler Perry stage plays. After Fox Searchlight rejected Perry’s screenplay adaptation of Diary, he submitted it to Lions Gate Film, which green lit the project back in the Spring 2004, and for that we’re lucky.

The quality of the acting is mixed. For instance, Kimberly Elise’s voiceovers are dry, and Tyler Perry’s over-the-top antics, which may work well on the stage (I’ve never seen one of his plays performed live), is occasionally too forced even for the big screen. The script is also a bit dry, but makes some wonderful points about charity, forgiveness, Christianity, love, family, and marriage. Darren Grant’s directing holds the film together even through the clunky bits. However, the film ultimately comes together as a fabulous inspirational look at coming to terms with the trials of life, but most importantly coming to terms with one’s family: the one into which we are born, the ones which adopt us, and the ones into which we marry.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman is inspiring, uplifting, shocking, provocative, and always surprising. The message is familiar, but the ways in which the film gets us there is never dull and 99.9 percent of the time engaging. Although this is a film with a predominately black or African-American cast, Diary is universal and good for all Christian souls, even both the nominal and the sanctimonious ones.

7 of 10