I Can Do Bad All By Myself

Posted on January 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Tyler Perry’s movies are review-proof. Not just because he does not let critics see them before they are released, knowing that his audience won’t care about reviews, but because they do not lend themselves to the usual kind of analysis. They are not the usual kind of movie. They don’t fit into any category except their own: Tyler Perry movie. And as his wildly enthusiastic and utterly devoted fans know, that means a walloping portion of high drama and low comedy, with suffering women who are afraid to trust and very hunky men who are good with their hands, endlessly patient and thoughtful and — in both senses of the word — faithful.

Taraji P. Henson plays April, who lives in a decaying house she inherited from her father, and shuts the door on rooms that are about to collapse rather than trying to repair them. She supplements what she earns by singing at a tiny club with support from her married boyfriend (Brian White). Madea (Perry) catches April’s 16-year-old niece and two younger nephews trying to rob her house. She feeds them, scolds them, and delivers them to April, who has no interest in taking care of anyone, even herself. They are the children of April’s sister, who died of a drug overdose, and they have been cared for by April’s mother, who has disappeared. April is a bit slow on the uptake about what could have happened to her mother, which gives the story a few days for everyone to get acquainted, including a recent immigrant named Sandino (Adam Rodriguez) who is conveniently enough a handyman installed in the house by the kindly preacher around the corner (real-life pastor and gospel great Marvin Winans).

April’s one friend is Tanya (Mary J. Blige) and there is a woman from the church named Wilma who knows April’s mother (Gladys Knight). This gives the film an opportunity for some raise-the roof singing and praise, including the title number. Pastor Winans lends his voice to a heartfelt “Just Don’t Wanna Know/Over it Now,” and we believe that April, hearing it through her window, is genuinely moved by its powerful message. The songs and Henson’s sensitive portrayal of the woman who has neglected herself and her home keep us involved.

Some audiences object to Perry’s portrayal of the popular character Madea, calling her an exaggerated caricature or an embarrassing stereotype. But Perry knows that she provides some counterpoint to the melodrama, in this case including drug abuse, adultery, child molestation, and disability. I am far more troubled by the stereotypes in films like “Friday After Next,” “The Cookout,” and “Next Day Air” than in Perry’s films, which always include an assortment of thoughtful and responsible characters. A little comic relief with Madea’s jumbled-up Bible stories keeps things from getting overheated and reminds us that life — and families — are always a jumble of good, bad, wicked, kind, and silly.

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Drama Family Issues Romance

12 Replies to “I Can Do Bad All By Myself”

  1. Hi there I went to see the movie, and I really enjoyed it. it happen to be part of my 49th birthday celebration. I like supporting Tyler Perry movies, because he just doesn’t make movies with just one plot. His movies, usually hit home for a lot of people, especially African Americans. I like the way he relates to his people and show how we are able too overcome in all situations. We are able to dance, sing, pray, and recognize the flaws of situations that many of us get into and be able to celebrate by receiving a word and having the victory through our faith.I would like to say to Tyler Perry keep on keeping on and continue to heal your people through your gifts of movies and plays, because I am here to support your work and your gift. God Bless, Cindy in Houston, Tx

  2. Thank you, Cindy! I like Tyler Perry a lot, too. And I like your very thoughtful explanation of the appeal of his films and their frankness combined with optimism. I look forward to seeing what he will do next.

  3. I am a huge Tyler Perry fan! I love how he brings the Lord and His Word into these movies he makes! I believe I own all his movies but this one and as soon as this is out on dvd I’ll have it also. So my family can watch it over and over agian. Because for one Madea makes us laugh so much we roll. Second they are just awsomely Blessed they are great for the whole family to watch!

  4. Blessings on you, Carlie, for this great comment! I am a fan, too, and I am so glad that he is schooling Hollywood about the audience they too often overlook. Thanks for writing.

  5. This is the best movie Tyler Perry made. I cried through almost the whole movie and laughed at the same time.Great movie!!!

  6. I read your blog of”I Can Do Bad All By Myself”. But i don’t understand that why you are want’s to do bad things by your self. you can also done good things by your self.So just do good things.

  7. I haven’t seen the movie yet (I’ll watch tonight with my husband and teenagers), but I know before seeing it that this is a very good review. It captures Perry’s general focus in his movies and echoes what I’ve heard already.

  8. I have to say that this was one of the best movies I have seen all year. There really aren’t many out there that can show life in a realistic way, and yet still remain positive. Tyler Perry does an awesome job of showing how life can pound you down, but he also shows the true source of power that is divine.
    This is the first Tyler Perry production that I have seen and I can tell you that I will be seeking out his other projects in the future.

  9. I got this for my girlfriend for Christmas, because she’s a Tyler Perry fan.
    Glad to see it’s a decent film.

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