Tyler Perry strikes again as he brings his hugely successful theatrical stage play Diary of a Mad Black Woman to movie theaters nation wide. A cultural phenomenon this is Perry’s chance to bring his play to a larger audience, unfortunately the movie, much like the play, falls flat.
Diary follows the life of Helen (Kimberly Elise) as she tries to put her life back to together after her husband, played by Steve Harris of The Practice fame, unceremoniously and rather cruelly throws her out of their sprawling mansion, officially ending their eighteen year marriage. Simple enough story right? Predictable but workable? Well if Diary had just stayed with that storyline then yes, it might have been a predictable but a rather entertaining film. Instead, Diary doesn’t stick to just that story line. It goes on to produce not one but five other subplots. These extra stories turn the movie into one big muddled mess that is never sure which way it is going.
In his defense Perry’s play is this muddled as well and what saves his play is the same thing that saves this film: Madea. Madea is Helen’s trash talking, pistol toting, you’re going to respect me or I’ll put a cap in your behind, grandma. Played by Perry himself she steals the film and makes sitting through this 116min rambling mess worth it.
Outside of Madea there’s not that much else to say about this movie. Tyler’s appearance as Joe, Madea’s cantankerous, dirty old man, brother is the only other bright spot in the film, as we watch him fight with Madea and hit on anything that moves. Kimberly Elise, albeit a very talented actress pouts, yells, screams and otherwise overacts her way through the role of the jilted Helen. And the absolutely handsome Shemar Moore from The Young and The Restless is convincing, although uninteresting as Orlando, Helen’s new and sappy love interest. Orlando’s dialogue couldn’t get anymore cheesy or saccharine, “I’ll love you through your pain” or “I’ll be your knight in shining armor. ” Although he delivers these lines as if he sincerely believes what he saying it stills sounds as if it is straight out of a bad romance novel.
I will say that if you like Perry’s stage work, then you will love this movie. He stays true to what works for him on stage, so you Perry fans won’t be disappointed. However, if you’re unfamiliar with Perry and his work and you were thinking about seeing this film, don’t. You’ll be sorely disappointed and will demand your money back.
(C)2005 Tamika Johnson
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