February 28, 2005

Diary of a Mad Black Woman

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This weekend, I again took myself to the movie theater with a friend this time to see Diary of a Mad Black Woman. If my accompaniment this week means anything to my companion, perhaps it indicates the quality and appeal of the movie we saw, Diary of a Mad Black Woman — or maybe it was just out of pity for me? I would like to think the former, but Diary of a Mad Black Woman is more like the visualization of a mental disorder rather than an applaus-worthy film.

The film is the big screen version of the popular stage-play by playwright, actor, producer and director Tyler Perry — watch out Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Lopez, Perry’s a male quadruple threat. The movie was not only the labor of Perry’s writing skills, but also his acting skills as he plays three different characters throughout the film: the piece of steel-totin’, voluptuous, house-arrested Madea, the grandmother of the mad black woman herself Helen (Kimberly Elise), the incestuous thinking, gas-producing brother to Madea, Joe; and the lawyer with a druggie wife, Brian. All three characters keep up the comedic momentum of the movie, comedy that barely made up for the awkward, drabness of the rest of the film. Besides Perry’s laugh-a-lot entertainment through the characters he plays, the storyline is as bi-polar as a polar bear cut in two. From the mad black woman’s (Elise) schizophrenic-like voice layover as she reads her diary (much in the same way like Carrie on Sex and the City minus nice clothes) to the multiplicity of dramatic, tragic, comedic, romantic and a whole lot of other –ic words dealt out on the screen, the entire 1 hour and 56 minutes (including the credits) is filled with emotional peaks and troughs like a ultraviolet wave from the sun.

Helen (Elise) is literally dragged out of the house by her rich, lawyer husband of 18 years Charles (Steve Harris) for Brenda (Lisa Marcos) the “ho.” Left with nowhere to go, she heads to her grandmother Madea’s (Perry) house — what was quite disturbing, besides the undulating rolls of fat and chest that seemed to hang to the Southern hemisphere of her grandmother, was that it was indeed a man playing her grandmother. Why? Many more ‘whys’ are to follow when viewers are introduced to other subplots such as the relationship between her druggie cousin and her lawyer husband. All of the subplots had good intentions of paralleling the main storyline, but sometimes it was a bit too much.

So after Helen goes to Madea’s house, she finds herself with a new haircut and a job as a waitress — whoop-de-doo. She falls in love with a steel worker Orlando (Shemar Moore) and leaves him for her crippled husband whom she entertainingly tortures with slaps and launching him into the bathtub from his wheelchair because she says he stinks. Finally, she settles the divorce with her husband, and returns to Orlando where they get engaged at a steel plant — how romantic, not. But hey, you know you have got a catch when a guy tells you he is in love with you by saying “I’ll even buy feminine products for you” just as Orlando did to Helen, oh how sweet.

Alright, if you like to laugh in 20-minute intervals go ahead and see Diary of a Mad Black Woman. The film’s writer, Tyler Perry, is about all that makes your movie ticket a little worth it. But, lucky for me I did not have to pay for the ticket, oh the joys of writing a movie review, and thus, got a couple of laughs for free. I am beginning to think maybe “The Diary of a Boring, Poor College Student” may make for a more cohesive, consistent film.

Archived article by Jennifer Rice Sun Contributor