HARTFORD — One thing can be said about Tyler Perry. He knows his audience. He can produce a film, television series, or stage play, and confidently know that he has a fan base to support him.
Some people come running with cash in hand for the latest offering from Tyler Perry, but this review is for the rest of us, who take him with a grain of salt.
Objectively viewed For Colored Girls is the most recent in a string of high school level screen plays with Hollywood level budgets.
Watch any of his films, and you will soon realize that three, simple words can immediately render a movie unwatchable: “by Tyler Perry”. Those three words are a sure sign of several of his signatures like saintly, black women, who have done absolutely no thing wrong, abusive, black men, who have no redeeming qualities, and a happy ending where the women win, men lose, and the credits roll. Unfortunately those three words are all over For Colored Girls, which under different management could have been a truly excellent film.
Directed by Tyler Perry, produced by Tyler Perry, screen play by Tyler Perry, there is no one to blame for the weakness of this film except for Tyler Perry.
The film is adapted from the stage performance, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. The film suffers the immediate handicap of adapting material from one performance medium to another much like a movie based on a book is never as good as the book.
Consequently parts of the the film, which are truest to the poetry of the stage play are powerful, but their power is dulled as Perry tries to string them together through exposition. For instance Perry chooses to overlap all of the disparate stories into one circle of friends, triumphing over a punishing world, and it just seems heavy handed.
That is not to say that it is all bad. Like the fusion of good writing with bad, the rest of the film is also a mixed bag. Janet Jackson does a weak impression of Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada, but Thandie Newton is delightful as a morally empty, sex addict. Phylicia Rashad returns to the screen to reprise her role as the maternal Claire Huxtable in a much darker, grittier environment, and she is as entertaining as ever.
The most powerful performance goes to Kimberly Elise however; her character has the richest, source material, and Elise ably brings it all to life on the screen to the point where she possibly could have had her own movie.
For Colored Girls is an OK movie just like mixing hot water with cold will yield a lukewarm bath. Tyler Perry gets an ‘A’ for effort, and his heart is in the right place, but he should probably leave the writing to some one else from now on.
Let us just hope that in the distant future some one else rediscovers the play by Ntozake Shange, and provides the film treatment, which it deserves.
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