Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 37
 
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?: Madea (Tyler Perry, facing the camera) is awoken by three destitute youngsters who have broken into her house. After Madea begins to question the trio, it turns out that they have been abandoned by their grandmother and left to fend for themselves. Madea decides to take them under her wing and help them instead of turning them over to the authorities.

I Can Do Bad All by Myself: Tyler Perry Is Back in Drag in a Musical Morality Play

Kam Williams

I Can Do Bad All by Myself is the sixth Tyler Perry play to be adapted to the big screen. Like his previous productions, this faith-based movie was crafted with an African American audience in mind; with down-home humor and earnest moralizing around universal themes that are of particular relevance to the black community.

What’s new is that the familiar formula has been enhanced by stellar singing performances from supporting actors Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige, and Marvin Winans. However, not withstanding the soulful diversions, the movie remains more of a melodrama than a musical. Its most memorable moments are reserved for Perry who’s back in drag as Madea, the wisecracking pistol-packing granny who is at her best when talking trash and taking the law into her own hands.

At the beginning of the film she catches three youths, 16-year-old Jennifer (Hope Olaide Wilson) and her two younger brothers, in the act of burglarizing her home. But when she interrogates the “chirrun,” she quickly realizes that they are not juvenile delinquents but are destitute orphans whose crackhead mother is dead and who have been abandoned by their grandmother (Gretas Glenn). So, instead of calling the cops, Madea decides to turn the trio over to their only other living relative.

Unfortunately, estranged Aunt April (Taraji P. Henson) is very unsympathetic and only reluctantly takes her sister’s offspring in. After all, she’s an alcoholic and in an abusive relationship with a domineering married man (Brian J. White). So, it’s no surprise when she proves to be inept as a surrogate parent, as when she teases chubby Byron (Frederick Siglar) about his weight and when she fails to protect Jennifer from a sexual predator.

Fortunately, there are a few good role models in April’s life, and her repeated failings give each an opportunity to help her with her problems. Fellow saloon singer Tanya (Blige), Pastor Brian (Winans), and his God-fearing wife Wilma (Knight) sing meaningful ballads while April’s tenant (Adam Rodriguez), helps out with the child-rearing and also protects her from her boyfriend. Of course, Madea is waiting in the wings to ensure that April finally turns her life around in the end.

Although the plot doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises, who wouldn’t laugh at sassy Madea’s over-the-top antics? And whose soul wouldn’t be stirred by an inspirational gospel duet sung by Gladys Knight and Marvin Winans? And what concerned parent wouldn’t appreciate seeing some sensible Sunday school lessons that have been designed for impressionable young minds?

Very Good (3 stars). Rated PG-13 for violence, drug use, smoking, and the sexual assault of a minor. Running time: 113 minutes. Studio: Lionsgate Films.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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