Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Double Team'd: Tyler Perry Style

It's sad to admit this, but I can't recall the last time I wrote an actual movie review! With all the goings and the comings, with the hospitals and the holidays, the sands of the hourglass were like the days of my life. Like how I squeezed in a soap opera reference? It's more than appropriate, given this double review of Tyler Perry's 2008 melodramas Meet the Browns and The Family That Preys. I know Invisible Woman has been waiting to hear this for a long, long time.

Meet the Browns

Release: 03.21.08
DVD Release: 07.01.08
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 40 minutes

Second-Run Seats ($$) <
> Group Rental ($)

Brenda Brown (Angela Bassett, Akeelah and the Bee) is a young single mother of three children in Chicago who struggles to make ends meet. Finances are strained further when she loses her job. She receives a letter explaining her estranged father has passed away along with three bus tickets to Georgia. The Chicago Browns head down South and meet up with her outrageous Georgia Brown kin. Oh yeah, a basketball scout named Harry (Rick Fox, He Got Game) gets shoehorned into the story, too.

I'd really love to know why Angela Bassett took this role. She does a phenomenal job, which is painfully obvious as the rest of the cast try and keep up. Some characters like Leroy Brown (David Mann) are strictly comic relief. Vera (Jenifer Lewis, Dead Presidents) shows out, and is the singlemost reason to watch this film.

Then there's Cheryl (Sofia Vergara, Four Brothers), the loud Latina stereotype, and Michael (Lance Gross), the 'If I can't ball, I'll sling dope' brother among others. My wife says we can forgive Rick Fox because he's just so damned delectable. With all the hype around his films, Tyler Perry needs to to slow down and churn out a higher quality script with better developed and less grating characters.

The Dirty Undies

My wife is right, Mr. Fox is delectable. My choice would be Ms. Vergara though her natural heat may be too much for my tastebuds! It's hard to go into a Tyler Perry film and not find beautiful people. Ms. Bassett has on some heavy makeup, but that's probably to hide twenty of her fifty regal years in order to pass for the role. There's some drugs and minor mention of sexual depravity, but nothing you wouldn't see in an after-school special.

The Money Shot
Tyler Perry needs to slow down and hone his craft. Learn to frame your shots better. Work out your audio issues. Most importantly, stop showing up in your damn films! This advice will probably go unheeded and why not? The films still make serious jink, even when they're as bad as this.

The Family That Preys

Release: 09.12.08
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 51 minutes

Matinee ($$$)

In a small Georgia town, Alice Pratt (Alfre Woodard, Down in the Delta) runs a small diner and lives a happy, though modest, life. Her two daughters Andrea (Sanaa Lathan, Something New) and Pam (Taraji P. Henson, Hustle & Flow) are like night and day. Pam has stayed to help momma with the business while Andrea is an executive for a construction firm owned by Alice's good friend, Charlotte Cartwright (Kathy Bates, The Waterboy). While the mothers travel cross-country, Andrea and Charlotte's son, William (Cole Hauser, The Cave), conspire to gain control of the company.

Not knocking other actors, but Family boasts the most accomplished cast to grace a Tyler Perry film. Woodard and Bates turn in strong performances that enhance the humor and sadness of the story. My girl Sanaa Lathan plays one of the most callous characters of her career. Not all the performances are stellar, cough Tyler Perry cough, but overall it's pretty compelling.

Don't get me wrong, the melodrama is thick like gumbo. I recall a scene where William's wife has collapsed on the porch of the mansion all woe-is-me after discovering her husband's dubious ways. Overall, I credit Family for showing growth in Tyler Perry, as he seems to give more attention to the story more so than he has with his play-to-film conversions.

Dirty Undies
I'd pretty much sworn off Perry films after Daddy's Little Girls, but I must thank my infatuation with the lovely Sanaa Lathan for luring me into Family. Even though she's so cold-hearted Io almost didn't find her attractive, Lathan gives me one of the most memorable scenes in all of 2008 - you have to watch it to see. Mustache-twirling double-cross plots of soap opera proportions litter the story along with a few half-naked men, perfect for the housewives.

The Money Shot
Just when I thought it was safe to wash my hands of the whole Tyler Perry mega-business, he goes and reins in my interest. Maybe he's a shrewder entrepreneur than he's given credit. The Family That Preys is a step in the right direction, but somehow I think this film will be the exception more so than the rule.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. Sorry...no interest in Perry. Is it just me, or do all his movies look the same?

    (Yes, that was on purpose. ;D )