tyler perry is the most predictable film-maker this side of quentin tarantino. anyone familiar with tyler perry's films knows to expect the same conventions everytime:
- overly exaggerated stereotypes of black families, churches, and relationships;
- cranky old black men and women, all played by tyler perry himself;
- a hearty dose of family values and self-efficacy sermons;
- personal redemption stories marked by a rebirth into healthy relationships;
- juxtaposed images of broken and redeemed men and women;
- the healing of deeply ceded and long-silent scars;
- a nearly Broadway-style focus on gospel, soul, and R&B tunes used as voices in the sermonizing efforts;
- the triumph of forgiveness over vengeance, innocence over perversion, peace over turmoil, sobriety over addiction, confession over silence, and blessings over curses;
- the foreknowledge that, even though we know exactly what we are getting into with tyler perry, we will gladly jump in again and again and again.
even while featuring these same old tyler perry conventions, and even while tackling similar issues from previous films (drug addiction, adultery, child molestation, the plight of the orphan, the healing power of divine and human love), and even with Madea's same old curtly abusive language ("Girl, I was in prison, and I will shank you!"), even after all this, two out of two stills agree that I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF is tyler perry's best film to date. it's a rare occasion for me to walk out of a movie theatre uplifted and inspired, seeing as how i usually look to brutally depraved films that call for a shower and a confession booth. but my wife doesn't appreciate the depravity, and she reminded me today that i have always enjoyed tyler perry's cinematically simple, yet personally profound, redemption stories. heck, i think i even got choked up a few times in there today.
don't tell anybody.
regardless of perry's normal happily, sappily good-vibrations, I CAN DO BAD's biggest selling point, for me, was the musical cameos by mary j. blige. it's a little known hamsterian fact that mary j. blige's album THE BREAKTHROUGH was in my top 5 of 2007. i love mary j. blige. in fact, she might be my all time favorite R&B diva. the woman is freaking lethal. she's beautiful. she's a powerhouse. and, in this movie, mary j. turns a tiny little platform stage into a wild geyser of "oh, hell no!" the only disadvantage of seeing this film in the theatre was the inability to rewind and watch the mary j. bits on repeat. praise be these things hit video sooner than later.
tyler perry's I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF gets 4 radios in the bathtub out of 5. sure, mary j. singlehandedly added an entire point, but i still really liked this film. although predictable, slightly cheesy, and redundantly repetitive, tyler perry still knows how to jump on the altar and testify to mercies that never grow old. and to that hope and that conviction in an artist, i can only offer one reply every single time:
keep that same story of goodness coming, bro, cause we obviously cannot hear it enough.