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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by Alfeo Dixon)

photo caption:
HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED TO ME?: In shock over the sudden change in the direction of her life after 18 years of marriage, Helen McCarter (Kimberly Elise) stares into space as she tries to figure what to do next.end caption.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman: Kimberly Elise Is a Cast-off Housewife in Faith-Based Revenge Movie

Review by Kam Williams

On their 18th wedding anniversary, Helen McCarter's (Kimberly Elise) husband Charles (Steve Harris), who is an attorney, reminds her about the ironclad pre-nuptial agreement she had signed years ago. He then unceremoniously ushers her out of their suburban Atlanta mansion, though not before introducing her to his long-hidden mistress, Brenda (Lisa Marcos).

The heartless philanderer rubs salt in his childless wife's fresh wounds by callously boasting about the two children he's secretly fathered with his paramour. Reeling from all the revelations, Helen staggers out of the house and finds a ready shoulder to lean on in Orlando (Shemar Moore), a sensitive, handsome man with a heart of gold and the patience of Job.

Homeless and cut off without a penny, she ventures back across the tracks to the inner-city neighborhood where she grew up. There she is taken in by her pistol-packing grandmother, Madea (Tyler Perry), and her great-uncle, Joe (also played by Tyler Perry).

Incensed by Helen's humiliating ordeal, Madea decides that her granddaughter had been wronged. Bent on vengeance, she drives Helen back to confront her ex and his girlfriend.

This is the set-up of Diary of a Mad Black Woman, a movie which never decides whether it wants to be a romance drama, a revenge comedy, or a morality play. As a result, we're left with a confusing film which alternates between mean-spirited slapstick, love scenes, and Bible lessons.

Imagine a cross between Martin Lawrence's Big Momma's House and Eddie Murphy's The Klumps with Christian and Cinderella themes. The film was adapted from a play originally commissioned by televangelist Reverend T.D. Jakes, which explains the religious sub themes.

Both the stage and screen versions were written by Tyler Perry who appears as three different characters, cross-dressing as the scene-stealing Madea. Tyler, previously wrote a couple of other Jakes-sponsored, spiritual-oriented stage productions, including Woman, Thou Art Loosed.

What ruins Diary of a Mad Black Woman is Madea's boorish, bull in the china store act. It is reminiscent of the sassy black woman stereotype popularized by Sanford and Son's Aunt Esther. Loud and ignorant, Medea tends to trivialize every scene.

For example, it is impossible to take Helen's budding new relationship with a good Christian man seriously, when you've just witnessed Grandma gleefully slicing a couch in half with a chainsaw, and you sense that something more outrageous is coming next.

Fans of this irreverent brand of humor should make sure to remain in the theater through the entire roll of the closing credits, that features a selection of silly outtakes after a gospel song.

Fair (one star). Rating: PG-13 for sex, slurs, expletives, drug use, crude humor, violence, suggestive language and adult themes. Running time: 116 minutes. Studio: Lions Gate Films.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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