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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tyler Perry's "Good Deeds" is the first Tyler Perry movie I have seen.
I saw the trailer when I went to see "Red Tails" in January, and I was
intrigued. I've been eagerly anticipating opening night ever since. And
talking it up until my family are sick of it.
I wasn't disappointed. But first, a word of warning. I wouldn't call "Good Deeds" a family film. I may not take my teenage sons to see it although the great lessons may win out over the questionable scenes in the end. Parents should be aware that there is significant vulgar language, especially in the first half of the film, and that there are both frank discussions of sexuality and a couple of rather intense lovemaking scenes that may not be suitable for younger children. The main character is living with his fiancée, and they are having sex before their marriage, which some people may object to.
That said, "Good Deeds" is a great story. Wesley Deeds grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and has the perfect life. Only Wesley isn't really sure it's his life, though he has buried these insecurities so deep that he isn't really aware of them anymore. His fiancée finds him utterly predictable. But they think they are in love, and their families are thrilled that they are finally going to marry. Lindsey Wakefield, on the other hand, is living in an ever-worsening nightmare. She is barely making ends meet, and from the first moment that we see her, it's clear just how precarious her situation is. And it just keeps unraveling.
Lindsey works as a janitor in Wesley's corporate headquarters. They meet when she parks in his reserved spot, and there is an altercation involving Wesley's boorish brother. We see from the beginning that Wesley has a good heart, but that figuring out the right thing to do can take him some time. Wesley and Lindsey keep running into each other, but he doesn't make a significant move to help her until the day he witnesses her child being torn from her arms by a social worker. In the process of helping Lindsey, Wesley not only falls in love, but finds spontaneity and rediscovers his childhood dreams.
The story rings almost true. I'd like to believe that there is a corporate CEO out there who would tolerate the kind of attitude that Lindsey displays I haven't met one yet, but maybe. And some of the scenes are a little predictable I saw the ending coming from the minute Wesley told Lindsey goodbye.
But that's why "Good Deeds" is a good film and should be a successful one. Like any fairy tale, there is just enough fantasy about it to keep us with one foot firmly planted in reality, while the rest is realistic enough that we can look wistfully on, thinking that it would be very nice if things did work just that way.
I am not a Tyler Perry defender, but I have to call foul on the 3.1
rating. Those who reviewed the movie average about a 6 or 7, so I'm led
to believe many who have voted on this movie did not in fact see the
movie. Considering the assault Perry receives from critics--myself
included at times--it would not be hard to believe some would undermine
the rating system here and seek to sabotage anything with the name
"Perry" in front of it. Moving on...
I will go out on a limb and say this is Perry's highest quality effort to date. It's the first movie I remember seeing of his that did not run with the trite good-guy/bad-guy story line. This movie had more depth than any of his previous. There were no bad guys. Every character was troubled and coping and...human. Many I think missed the real theme of this movie. It has absolutely nothing to do with a man coming to save a woman. It is about having the courage to follow your own path. It is a universal theme, one that hits home for virtually everyone. Sure there may be better movies out there who execute this theme, but this movie does it competently in my opinion, and by Tyler Perry's standards, it is more than competent. It is dare I say, actually "good?"
I liked the acting. Once I got past Thandie's always-strange accent and the little girl's initially poor acting performance, and Brian White's sometimes over-acting, the movie caught its groove and all of the actors delivered. Newton played a particularly touching role. I have to admit her ability to cry on a dime regarding the loss of her child, made me tear up a bit. To say that I was shocked to find myself actually tearing up from a Tyler Perry movie is the understatement of the day. Perry and Gabrielle Union also delivered. Both portrayed their complex characters well and competently showcased the true ambivalence that often accompanies a relationship, especially one that occurs when the couple is past their twenties and have to grapple with all the life expectations that entails. This brings me to the next highlight--the script.
It seems like Perry actually took his time--or at least more time than he usually does, say on the horrible movies like "Madea Goes to Jail" or the like--on this script. There was more character development, more growth, more nuance, and unpredictability. There were plot holes, sure, but in general, you didn't feel short-changed as a viewer, like the writer was just trying to rush something through to meet a deadline so that he could ultimately get your money--ahem--"Why did I get Married 2" looking at you!
Finally, I liked the pace of the movie. Some may think it was slow, I think it was mature...a mature movie about mature matters. I liked this for a change, especially in comparison to the low-IQ slapstick I had previously associated with Tyler Perry. And let me leave this little tidbit: If you, like me, happen to currently be in a similar place in life as these characters--about to make big life decisions but fear you are not making the right ones--you will doubly appreciate the meditative pace. You will appreciate the more introspective tone than is found in Perry's other movies.
The movie is not perfect, but I will give it a relatively high rating simply to combat the unfairly low rating it has as of this writing. We should applaud growth when we see it. "See it" being the operative phrase. See the movie before low-rating it. Have some integrity folks.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First, the only reason I took one star away was because I felt that 2
hours wasn't enough time to tell a deeper story. This could have been
Tyler Perry's fault for not writing a deeper story ... or Gary
Ousdahl's fault (as story editor) for cutting the story too deeply.
Thoreau once said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." This is so true. And sometimes in our lives, we need a coincidence to occur ... something that jars us from our predictability ... to act as a catalyst for an epiphany that will induce fundamental change.
WARNING! POSSIBLE SPOILER FOLLOWS!
In this film, Lindsey's chance meeting with her boss led this boss to have his own epiphany. In time, he realized (as his fiancée suggested) that his life was predictable ... that he'd sacrificed his personal aspirations to become what others wanted him to become. And when Wesley Deeds' epiphany caused him to change, it became an epiphany for his fiancée to realize that their marriage was destined for failure.
Later, it became an epiphany for Wesley's mom ... to finally realize that Wesley had found his own path in life and was determined to follow that path. And by Wesley leaving the family business, Wesley's brother realized he had no one to sabotage anymore ... that he had to stand on his own two feet and become the man that sibling rivalry had held him back from becoming.
This film was not a "man saves damsel in distress" movie. It was far deeper than that - a testament to coincidence and the importance it can play in our relationships (including relationships with ourselves).
Two final points. Earlier, one reviewer suggested that had Tyler Perry done more research, he would have discovered that servicemen (like Lindsey's deceased husband) had access to a cheap $400,000 life insurance policy - making it unlikely that she should be so much in debt. However, when a person is the recipient of a life insurance payout, and if the insurance was acquired through an employer (military included), only the first $50,000 is not taxable. The remaining $350,000 is taxable as ordinary income ... and would put Lindsey in the highest tax bracket. Living in San Francisco, where the movie is set, things can get pretty expensive very quickly. And as money managers, people are sometimes compromised by grief - making them poor money managers. The IRS was after Lindsey, after all. This could have been fleshed out better - but it's nothing for which I'd take a star away.
Also, near the end of the movie, Wesley's mom sees him off at the airport. Before 9/11, this was possible. After 9/11, no one gets to an airline's boarding gate without passing through security screening. And no one gets through screening without a valid boarding pass - which Wesley's mom didn't have. This "goof" has been submitted to IMDb. But, it's a forgivable goof.
Until this year, Tyler Perry had a morbid fear of flying. He's never been on a post-9/11 airline flight. However, this year, he conquered his fear of flying by taking flying lessons - and is now a licensed private pilot. So, I didn't take away a star for that either.
All in all, it was a most enjoyable film. However, some scenes might be too intense for children.
I am "Mr.Deeds", so I can tell you right off the bat that not only is
this very real - but for once my new friend Tyler finally made a
respectful black film.
I am going to go see this a second time in the theatre, and I will buy a copy for home when it comes out.
I am very happy to say this was a great - an awesome film. Yes - black people have good jobs, are educated, and we do have normal life problems and this film reflected all of that and more.
~~I have to say, again: this truly spoke to me. This is almost to the tee my particular tale, and it was a cold shiver to see it.
Tyler Perry has finally come out of the closet and has shown us another
side of his talents. I knew people wouldn't be happy seeing a positive
movie about an African-American male, but I love movies that
African-Americans can be proud to see, movies that portray us in a
This movie feels real, and leaves you with a good feeling at the end of it. Hopefully this is a new beginning to a trend of positive, more realistic movies. Red Tails was another one that because of it's positive portrayal of African-American men, winded up getting a poor rating. Minds haven't changed much since the slavery days.
If you like feel good positive movies, go see this one, but if you're stuck on the portrayal of African-American men as week, drug dealing, and always wrong when they speak, this movie isn't for you. Personally, I and my family loved it.
Two thumbs up, all the way up.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It used to be that Tyler Perry made movies that were about the hope and
help there is in God. But there was always an element in his movies
that bothered me: part of the solution to becoming happy and whole
always involved dumping your boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife and
getting a new one.
Now, in this movie, there is no longer any Christian pretense. All that's left is Tyler Perry's one true theme: "To be happy, you need a new love interest." At least in his previous movies, the dumped love interests were abusive in some way. But in this movie, oddly named "Good Deeds," Perry's love interest has done nothing wrong. Instead, she's a virtual angel who lets him off the hook by saying, "We're not ready to get married," all because their relationship had become predictable and boring, especially in comparison to Perry's more exciting relationship with his new love interest.
So if you go to Tyler Perry movies to be inspired or uplifted, I would recommend skipping this movie, and being cautious in the future, because it seems like every movie is worse than the last.
I have now seen some Tyler Perry movies that weren't good (like Madea's Big Happy Family) and some that were (his adaptation of For Colored Girls... was the best so far). This one was better than expected since he doesn't play that stereotypical mammy-type character that I just mentioned nor does he put any obvious comedy scenes that makes one groan like in that first movie I just wrote about. In fact, the only character I thought was truly one-dimensional was that of his no-good-brother played by Brian White who has no business being part of their father's company but because he's family...Anyway, Perry plays perhaps the most caring of businessmen one would expect to be depicted in modern cinema as he discovers a female janitor played by Thandie Newton who's on welfare because of some personal troubles. Oh, and Perry's engaged to Gabrielle Union and has a mother played by Phylicia Rashad who's a little uptight though she also knows where she's been. In summation, Good Deeds was a nice surprise for me concerning Mr. Perry's output and on that note, I recommend it.
I went to watch this movie not knowing anything about this movie. I enjoyed the intro of San Francisco. I have family that live in the city and enjoy when movies are filmed there. Though Then it cut to the movie. At first glance the movie appeared to be somewhat original and interesting. Though after the first 5 minutes it unravels into a movie that I had felt that I had watched before. One of my least favorite parts were the undeveloped characters. There seemed that they could have developed many characters more. Though they chose to get there main plot rushed together. In the end creating many loose ends and making the movie forgettable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILER ALERT*** My first paid-for-in-the-theater Tyler Perry movie. Good News: He's not wearing a dress. Bad News: He's not wearing a dress. Plot holes you can drive a truck through (the widow of a vet but but no $$$; she can get him access to a Harley but can't pay her rent? she drives a mini-van and has an iPod but no cell phone?) but that's me being persnickety. Tyler's foray into credible drama was a miss: contrived, manipulative, embarrassingly amateurish, and an oft-told tale that has been better told elsewhere. Cringe-worthy is the word that comes to mind. He means well, he really does. But by the time the Richard Marx song came on at the end I already had my head in my hands. This was a movie (oops, I almost typed "film") for his fans. I so wanted to be one but as much as I admire Tyler Perry the person, I realized that I am not a fan of his movies.
I look at it like this ... for a Tyler Perry movie this was a comeback.
Okay some scenes were a little 'awkward' and slow, but I was impressed
with this film. You can see he is trying to reset the tone of his movie
making and get back to the basics of telling the story. He decided to
take the lead part in this film and I think that it was a bold and
precise move on Tyler's part. He had to let his audience know that he
is here to stay. He is bringing his core essence of film-making that
drew people to him in the first place. He is a fantastic black man who
tries to cut out 'the crap' of films and just wants to display real
life. He has fumbled around casting and made some 'just for giggles'
films but he knows how to remind us all of just how simple we all are
and how we are all connected in this game of life.
If one thing we should learn from him is his insatiable need to put us all in the shoes of another person. Let's be a little more compassionate for a man who isn't afraid to pick himself up, dust himself off and keep trying ... just my little thought ;-)
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