[Review] – Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds

19 Mar

Title: Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds
Year: 2012
Director: Tyler Perry
Writer: Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry, Thandie Newton, Brian J. White, Rebecca Romijn, Jamie Kennedy, Phylicia Rashad, Gabrielle Union, Eddie Cibrian, Beverly Johnson
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sexual content, language, some violence and thematic material
Runtime: 110 min
IMDb Rating: 3.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Metacritic: 43

Another year, another Tyler Perry movie. And every time I go into one of his films I make sure I first say that I’m most certainly not part of Mr. Perry’s target audience; I’m a twenty year-old white kid while his films are aimed at african american women around forty who are just super loyal to his particular brand and  always front load his films to pretty consistent box office results. This is the fourth Tyler Perry film I’ve reviewed, having watched both his 2010 efforts (Why Did I Get Married Too? which I gave a C to, and For Colored Girls which I gave a B to and think is his best film to date), and the one film he did last year (the horrible Madea’s Big Happy Family, which I gave a D+ to).

Now we get his new film, his first of a planned three 2012 releases. And while I do believe his skills as a director are indeed growing by the film, his screenwriting chops are seriously lacking, and he’s not able to grow out of the melodramatic tones that flood so much of his films and makes them feel just super pretentious and don’t allow them to really grow. The film centers of Wesley Deeds, played by Mr. Perry himself, a rather successful businessman who’s pretty much always done whatever was expected of him; he took control of his father’s company, tolerated his brother’s attitude in the workplace, and plans to marry his fiancé. But then he meets Lindsey, a single mother who works as a cleaning lady in his office building, and his predictability goes out the window.

The performance Mr. Perry gives, however, doesn’t work to give Good Deeds any type of momentum. When he doesn’t have to don the wig and fat suit to play Madea the man plays it straight, but to the point in which the performance is just remarkably dull and lifeless. You can’t really get a pulse out of Wesley Deeds, and considering he’s the main character and the one we have to invest in in order to care for the story, that means this whole thing is dead on arrival. The whole film just feels like it’s always one step behind the pacing it should have for it to be engaging and to feel real; all we get is a scene in which someone mopes around followed closely by another one just like it, and considering the moping is done by characters that don’t feel real, it won’t get much done by the time the film’s done, even though it’s so clearly designed to leave one with a powerful message.

Obviously there will be some romantic interest arising between Wesley and Lindsey. The IRS is on her and her daughter’s case, and soon she’s homeless just trying to make do, her daughter sleeping inside a closet while she works late nights cleaning the office; and you know Thandie Newton, who plays Lindsey, is super adept at just being ridiculously over-emotional with her material. But the thing is, she sets something off in Wesley, an interest in him that he’s never had in his predictable life. But even that is not believable at all here, not once do you feel any sort of attraction between the two, no real love; instead it all feels like a plot line we’ve seen done one too many times before, and that’s here just in order to provide further mopey scenarios for our characters. And, surprised as I was to think this, I kind of wanted Madea to make an appearance in this film; maybe she would have provided a bit of life to this whole thing.

I just don’t know what people see in this guy’s films, and yet a part of me really wants to get him and know why he’s so successful with a group of people. But I just don’t see how one could like this film; Mr. Perry looks pretty uncomfortable in such a buttoned-down performance, Ms. Newton is too pretty to be a janitor, and every character is incredibly one-dimensional. Not to mention that this film is clearly trying to make itself super supportive and understanding about the working class, and yet Mr. Perry writes about it with no grasp whatsoever about that reality, which only makes caring and believing this film that much harder.

Mr. Perry will obviously be here for a long time to come, and the rate at which he makes films is pretty prolific and the guy is certainly a talented entrepreneur; I just wish he’d be a better filmmaker. This is a film with a one of those manipulative scores that tries to tell you what to feel even though feelings about the film will be nowhere to be found because it never once looks as though the characters themselves are experiencing any. Like I said, though, directing-wise this is actually better than your typical Tyler Perry shindig, the film looks far better than his usual efforts, but at its core it’s as bad as it usually is. The guy showed a glimpse of promise with For Colored Girls, and hopefully at least one of the other films he has lined up for this year will get to that level; for now, though, Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds is a film you should probably skip.

Grade: C-


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