I’m not a Tyler Perry fan but contrary to a lot of his critics my aversion isn’t extreme. I don’t think all of his work is coonery (some of it is, but that’s another blog) but two of my major problems with him are dialogue and cliches. His work is rife with them. Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf is the extreme opposite of the aforementioned so when I first heard that Tyler Perry was going to be responsible for turning this epic work into a movie, I was concerned–very concerned. I’ve seen the play three times since first being introduced as a teenager and I often read the book so I had high expectations. Last week, I saw Tyler Perry’s movie version and I was pleasantly surprised.
The play is abstract in a lot of ways. One, the cast is all women so all of the other characters are mimed by them. Two, the storyline isn’t linear. There is no once-upon-a-time-this-happened-then-it-lead-to-that-then-climax-and-the-end. It’s really just the women reciting their poems and weaving in and out of each other. But in the movie, TP did a good job of developing a cohesive storyline and incorporating other characters. The movie over all was decent enough. I didn’t love it but it’s worthy of your support. I I’d give it a B-.
Here’s a list of pros and cons:
- All the actors in the cast, even Janet Jackson, did excellent jobs. Michael Ealy will make you HATE him (those of you who know the play/book know what happened to the children, it’s in the movie too), so will Khalil Kane.
- Not all of Shange’s monologues from the book made the movie but the most important ones like “No Assistance,” “I used to Live In the World,” “Somebody almost left with all my stuff,” etc made it in.
- The emotion is palpable. If you are a red blooded human, you will be touched during some scenes. I teared up a few times.
- Not all the men were evil and not all the women were in dysfunctional relationships. Hill Harper and Kerry Washington’s characters added some balance to that.
- The movie was good at showing the roles some of these women played in their victimization. In some cases, some of these ladies were part of the problem by allowing themselves to stay in certain situations that they could have changed by having less fear and more self-esteem. I liked how this film encouraged them to take responsibility for their parts.
- Men can learn from this film as well. Just because “women” is in the title and the primary stars are women, it DOES NOT mean that men shouldn’t go see it. This film provided good insight to some of the things women go through in life. It’s a great conversation starter and a great tool for empathy and compassion.
- Phylicia Rashad’s acting was terribly underutilized. She didn’t have many lines.
- Due to the highly sophisticated nature of Shange’s poetry (which not many people can write like that anyway) it is obvious when Shange’s dialogue ends and Tyler Perry’s begins. Like, really obvious.
- Some of the monologues were rushed in certain spots, and even randomly placed or cut off.
- Some of it was over-the-top and trite, ie Tyler Perry’s signature melodramatic style. Without giving too much away there’s a character whose man is on the down low and as a result she catches something from him. It’s a situation that does happen in real life but the fact that the husband was on the down low was cliche and speaks the myths that so many people unfortunately believe. There are tons of straight cheating husbands who take stuff back to their wives so to me, the man on the down low thing just reinforced the stereotype that it’s only secretly gay men who are primarily responsible for spreading disease, which is dangerous given how big Perry’s fanbase is.
On Oscar Buzz
- I highly doubt that any Tyler Perry flick will ever actually get nominated for an Oscar, but Thandie, Whoopie and Kimberly Elise stand good chances of being nominated for at least an NAACP Image Award.