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|Index||202 reviews in total|
Too many critics are taking this movie TOO seriously and I believe it is not Mr. Perry's intent. The movie is to keep the audience attracted by inserting comical twists and turns throughout - therefore, the use of Madea. Additionally, the movie explains issues within the black family while applying a spiritual message and lesson. Although it is apparent that the target audience was the black family who has additionally supported Mr. Perry's theatrical career, MY family and I equally enjoyed it and feel it could be applied to our culture and ethnic group as well. I am now interested in seeing more Tyler Perry movies and plays with my family. The issues that face our society are not color blind.
First of all, let me lay my cards on the table. (Poker, anyone?) I am
white, male, nonchristian, over 40, college-educated, and live in the
northeast. I'm old enough to remember the original "Diary of a Mad
Housewife" and when "Miss Jane Pittman" first aired, and I have done
the electric slide, lived in the south (never been to Atlanta, but love
Georgia), and have attended barbecues--but know very little about the
"chitlin circuit." Yet I (and the two white friends I went with) loved
As I see it, people who have witnessed this movie can be divided into two camps: 1) reviewers (probably mostly white) who disliked the movie even when they tried to like it and 2) ordinary people (mostly probably black, as many tell us) who loved it. So why do many apparently white viewers not "get it"? Why did I see it in my mostly white area with only about five other people in the audience?
Well, a lot of people didn't like "Showgirls" or "Carwash" or "Lonely Lady" when they first came out, and now those are cult hits, even "classics." "Diary" is only like those movies in that it is similarly over-the-top, unapologetic, irony-free, awkward, amateurish (that is, not slick), and yet so intrinsically watchable you can't take your eyes of the screen for a split second. I must admit that I probably laughed at some "inappropriate" moments, but then so did Madea. The whole faith-based initiative Christian-values quasi-Republican "message" might have made me wince or even gag in another context, but is delivered so sincerely here you can't help but forgive just as Jesus (or Helen!) would.
One could only call this movie operatic or "Shakespearian." Wait--I'm not trying to sound pretentious, only trying to point out that like Shakespeare this movie mixes high melodrama with "low" comedic relief, music, and spectacle. The comic actors comment upon and undercut the ultra-seriousness or piety of the rest of the story--and so we can only enjoy it more when the plot rides another twist on its emotional roller-coaster.
Tyler Perry is obviously a man with a vision--he doesn't have the finesse of Eddie Murphy, perhaps, but I admit I was halfway through the movie before I realized he was playing both Madea and old Joe AND Brian. My fear is now that he will be sucked in by Hollywood, the executives will convince him to deliver what they think white people want or "need," and he will lose his rough but raucous magic. So when Hollywood comes knocking, please don't answer, Mr. Perry!
When I went into this movie I was grumbling that ticket prices had gone up to ten dollars, but since we are given about five films for the price of one, I consider it a very good deal. It is simply one of the most astonishing movies I've ever seen.
All I have to say is that, despite all the negative 'reviews', I loved it, as did everyone else that filled the theater. I laughed, cried and was angry, all simultaneously. Anytime I can show that much emotion during one film, I'm impressed (and I'm not, too often, impressed). I'm not all that keen on the plays, but, to me, the movie was excellent. Not even the critics have soured my views on the film. I'd go see it again. Tyler Perry's characters were hilarious! And the 'find yourself' theme was apparent, which was good, because I hate to watch a movie through to the end and still have to 'guess the plot.' Overall, I give it a few thumbs up!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The McCarters are one of the many marriages of convenience that form
the thread of high society. Helen McCarter, in a voice over, even says
so herself: husband Charles is a man in love with appearances. It's
confirmed right after his award has been given to him and has dropped
her in their enormous Atlanta mansion: he orders her to get out of the
car and she does.
So how couldn't she see his abandonment coming? How could she not know that seeing all her items boxed outside was a sign that something terrible was about to happen? How could she confuse the new clothes in her closet rack as being hers, and go one step further to lovingly wait for Charles to get back and spend a quiet romantic night? I found it shocking, but not surprising, when he comes home with his mistress and in a violent scene, throws her out of the house and into an uncertain future.
If Tyler Perry had built upon this premise and had Helen find herself and her feminist voice without resorting to the gimmicks he gives us here, DIARY would have been a complex character study. Once this prologue is over, the movie shifts into a completely different gear and in having Helen being driven to her Aunt Madea's house. Anyone who is acquainted with the outrageous Madea will know that for a movie relating to issues such as spousal abuse, she is NOT a character who could bring anything to the story. I can understand that a drama like this needs some outlet for humor to avoid maudlin, but Madea? The moment she storms onto the screen DIARY screeches to a halt. Sure, Madea teaches Helen to get in touch with her anger -- after all, she's the wife and was so for 18 years (implausible seeing how young both Kimberly Elise and Steve Harris look), and is entitled to half of Charles' assets. She even takes a chainsaw into play and saws Charles' belongings, each and every one, stressing her point. Not before doing a bad parody of Faye Dunaway in the wire hanger scene from MOMMIE DEAREST as she rips the gowns Charles has bought his new paramour, and I wondered why? I answered myself that maybe Perry loves MOMMIE DEAREST that much and felt that it suited Madea. Oh, it did -- just not for this movie.
And this isn't the only bad decision turn DIARY makes. There's the inclusion of Madea's foul-mouthed brother Joe. There's Brian, Helen's cousin, also unhappily married to Debrah, a drug addict trying to Do The Right Thing. And there's the shady dealings of (a not so law-abiding) Charles who filmed in deep shadows resembles an episode of LAW AND ORDER and makes the movie change drastic tones again because it seems out of place in Helen's plight. And speaking of Helen, her story takes not one, but two awful left turns that are completely inconsistent to character. First, she begins working as a waitress and reluctantly accepts the courtship from hunky factory worker Orlando (who drove her to Madea's house at the start of the movie and happens to be associated with Brian via friendship, a little hokey, and another mistake from Perry), but once Charles gets shot in court (also unlikely, but with the recent Atlanta events in which the judge was killed, plausible) and becomes paraplegic, she becomes vindictive. Consistent? Well, from the viewer's point of view, yes. Considering the way she was dragged from her hair out into the cold at the start of the movie, yes. That her revenge is equally dragged on for too long? Absolutely. (Not to mention the blatant mention of MISERY, as if we the viewer did not catch the visual reference.) The second inconsistency comes when Christian values are introduced and the need to forgive in order to move on comes into play. Suddenly we're flooded with images from a gospel choir, Charles experiences a miracle, and Brian's wife comes walking in singing of rebirth, no doubt a device which can work in a stage play (and can give the first of three climaxes), but not here. When all this is done, we can see the ending coming a mile away, and even that seems as fake as fake fur, but necessary for a happy ending appealing to a large audience.
I also feel that the actors try to handle the material even though it seems to me they're all miscast. Elise and Harris are too young to play a couple married for close to twenty years -- Angela Bassett and Denzel Washington would have brought their characters' natures out more easily but probably were unavailable. Shemar Moore plays his role as if he were back in THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, but then again, his part was written to fit a romantic triangle much in the style of old Hollywood soaps a la Franchot Tone, patiently waiting for his woman. Tamara Taylor brings pathos to her characterization of Debrah but does not belong in this story. Cicely Tyson has two small scenes and reaffirms her welcome back to the acting business.
Tyler Perry is the star of DIARY as writer, producer, and playing three roles (the ubiquitous Madea, Joe, and Brian). I can appreciate his movie in segments and respect its honesty, but as a whole, it's all over the place. (And including what looks like a skit in which Judge Mayblean Ephraim calls upon Bobby Brown for an offense and we hear 'Whitney' shrieking "Bobbay! I love you Bobbay!" in the background doesn't help.) He clearly loves camp movies and spells them out to us. Paring a story down to its bare essentials, however, makes a perfect, air-tight viewing, instead of packing too much into two hours. Perry has a lot going for him, and I think he'll create better scripts instead of focusing on one caricature which as a secondary player was overbearing.
What a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. I must admit that the
movie's opening scenes had me wondering if I'd come to the wrong movie,
but by the movie's end I was in tears. This movie was simply written
and the emotional overtones were brilliant. Kimberly Elise is Hollywood
royalty. Her acting was so powerful and next to Shemar Moore I enjoyed
the chemistry (It was awkward for me at first, but they worked it..)
Steve Harris stretched out in this role. We've grown accustomed to
seeing him as the Lawyer in the Practice. I don't think I'll ever look
at him the same again after this movie. Excellent work. For anyone who
has ever had their hearts ripped apart by love should see this movie.
I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed. Tyler Perry is brilliant.
This was an excellent movie. Kimberly Elise is excellent as Helen, an
emotionally abused spouse who gets kicked out of her mansion and has to
learn to live life on her own and learn to trust men again. There are
moments that are so heart wrenching that much of the theater was
crying. However, before things get too down, there are numerous
hilarious scenes led by Tyler Perry. The great thing is that these
funny moments are integral to the story for the most part and are not
just thrown in without relating to the main story lines.
Best of all, this movie has heart and a message. It's about how forgiveness is better than revenge and that you need to forgive someone because it hurts YOU if you hold that anger inside yourself. It's about how love endures even through pain and disappointment. It's about how God can turn people's lives around. It's the type of movie that you can proudly take your mother and grandmother too.
I wish they would market this type of movie more to a broad audience. It looks like they advertised this almost exclusively to a black audience, I was one of the few white people in the theater in a very integrated community.
Charles McCarter (Steve Harris) and his wife Helen (Kimberly Elise) are attending an awards banquet where Charles is receiving an award for the most outstanding lawyer in Atlanta. You would think that both of them would be on top of the world, but things are about to change. They are about to celebrate their 18th-wedding anniversary when Helen comes home to find her clothes packed up in a U-Haul van parked in the driveway. However, there is now a new wardrobe of designer clothes in the closet. Helen thinks this is the big surprise Charles was going to tell her. She was wrong; Charles is divorcing Helen for a younger woman. Charles has to drag Helen out his front door and closes the door on her, because this is his house. Helen moves in with her grandmother Madea (Tyler Perry), an old woman who doesn't take any lip from anyone, and if she must, she will use the gun she always carries. Madea helps Helen through these tough times by showing her what is really important in life. Helen begins to stand on her own two feet and finds a new man, Orlando (Shemar Moore). The movie was adapted from the stage play by Tyler Perry, who also played three roles in the film. The movie is well crafted and the comedy timing was on the mark. You will begin to laugh from beginning to end. The ending was about right. (Lions Gate Films, Run time 1:56, Rated PG-13) (8/10)
Darren grant is a cool cucumber. After over 120 Music videos and
commercials in just 8 years, the youngish helmer has delivered with
"Diary of A Mad Black Woman". This debut director has entered the
Hollywood fray on par with any big shooter. As a former Madison Avenue,
ad agency creative director, I will admit I am biased because he
directed an award- winning commercial for me 2 years ago.
Still, Mr. Grant pulled off the same trick he did with our controversial cinema/TV commercials (which featured a cigarette executive as a lethal "Hitman"): he took a complex, ethnically esoteric subject and simplified it, making it digestible for the masses. Slap me around a little, but I think that's what a good Director should do. The playwright, Tyler Perry has had things cooking for years on the Chittlin' Circuit, bringing his own unique brand of urban theatre to working-class, black America. Mr. Perry came to Hollywood as a pre-packaged star. And Hollywood has acknowledged his presence in grand fashion.
The rather surreal Madea character is more than just a man-in-drag; it is Perry's vessel of choice. Via Madea, he can impart a spiritual gospel that reflects his experience growing up in the black church. He can also channel his insights on politics and perhaps give a few pointers to wayward minorities who feel they are up against it. The rest of the characters in DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN: Helen, Charles, Orlando, Debrah, Brenda, Tiffany and Myrtle not to mention, Brian, Madea and Joe all played by Tyler Perry, serve to hone Mr. Perry's particular brand of cultural propaganda. To wit, love it or hate it, there is a well- defined black American subculture that cannot be ignored.
DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN is indeed complex. Whereas Robin Williams in "Mrs. Doubtfire" was, deliberately in drag as a scheming septuagenarian and as was Martin Lawrence in the "Big Momma's House" Tyler Perry's Madea is a REAL woman! He's also Madea's dirty-old-man of a brother and takes off the makeup to play handsome young attorney. Tyler is almost on par with Eddie Murphy as he bandies about in multiple roles. Again, credit Darren Grant's deft understanding of the characters' interaction. The only criticism here is that Tyler Perry is actually a more convincing actor when he is talking to himself(s)!
Kimberly Elise is a true A-list acting talent. If Madea is comic relief, Elise's Helen fulfills the dramaturgy aspect of the film. She admirably holds her own with screen legend, Cicely Tyson as her mother. Steve Harris is menacingly effective as an Ike Turner-esque, booji Atlanta attorney who emotionally terrorizes his wife and associates. Shemar Moore gives a breakout performance that is sure to take him to the next level in Hollywood. Watch as he is next transformed into a mainstream matinée idol
What's most important about this film is how it OWNS the right to speak of an ethnic genre. Darren Grant and Tyler Perry have cleverly positioned themselves as experts on American black culture. And how there are thousands of similar stories yet untold. Look for this director to, perhaps, do what Spike Lee intended; what Carl Franklin suggested; and what the Van Peebles' aspired to do: become the definitive, fresh, new voice in Black American film.
Its February 14, 2005 (Valentine's Day) and tonight was a special Screening of Diary of a Mad Black Woman at Phipps Plaza in Atlanta. Tyler was there along with Kimberly Elise, Shemar Moore, Dallas Austin, and many other celebrities. The theater was packed. I have to say this movie is Excellent. It had just the right mix of Comedy, Romance, and Drama. Nothing was overkill about this movie. Even Madea and her antics did not go overboard. Although Tyler's plays are great, this movie is on another level. The messages are clearly and positively conveyed from beginning to end. I give it Two Thumbs Up!!! If the African American community doesn't support this movie, it will certainly be a travesty.
We loved this film! It's original, fun & real, with so many interesting
levels that really gets one thinking, especially about life! The cast
was phenomenal and Christianity was so refreshing! Definitely not your
typical Hollywood pump-out film, thank goodness.
The world and Hollywood needs more creative people like Tyler Perry. We loved the writing, plots and all the sub-plots, which served up a swift kick of reality versus fantasy. We don't want to be negative here, but this film blows Elizabethtown right out of the water! Tyler Perry definitely got it right, with so much more. I would love to shake his hand one day!
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