Published Mar 01, 2005Apparently, writer/producer/performer Tyler Perry has grown tired of his massive collection of rare and valuable clichés; his Diary of a Mad Black Woman just flooded the market with so much product that it's driving down reserve prices everywhere.
When devoted wife Helen (Kimberley Elise) is tossed out by her rich lawyer husband of 18 years (Steve Harris), she has to pull an Oprah and take stock of her lie of a life. She reconnects with her roots, in the form of her saggy vulgar grandmother Madea (Perry in Big Momma's House drag), learns to do without in a world beyond the gettin' paid ethos of her ex and learns to appreciate the rough-but-tender love of penniless Orlando (Shemar Moore).
Perry wastes no time in plunging us into a maelstrom of soap opera/family melodrama/daytime talk show chestnuts, where everything is a learning experience or a moral maxim. If it isn't about being true to yourself, it's about looking for forgiveness, or understanding what's really valuable, or some other simpleminded bromide designed for "you go girl" impact. It's impossible to communicate the base level at which this film operates and even less possible to evoke the vast and sweeping ennui that washes over any audience fool enough to endure it.
Despite a classy turn by Cicely Tyson as Helen's hastily cast-off mother and some guilty laughs from the hideously-caricatured Madea, the film wears out its welcome early and beats you into stupefaction with its complete lack of originality, artistry or shame. Though I have to admire Perry's chutzpah in passing these old saws off as new goods, a series of rip-offs does not a good time make. (Lions Gate)