Reviewed by: Mia J. Best
|Featuring:||Sofía Vergara, Tyler Perry, Angela Bassett, Rick Fox, Jenifer Lewis, Lance Gross, Lamman Rucker, Margaret Avery, Irma P. Hall, Tamela J. Mann, David Mann, Chloe Bailey, Giota Trakas, Mariana Tolbert, Shawn Shepard, Grace Baine, Roy McCrerey, James Pusztay, Kristopher Lofton, Ricardo Finnis, Tim Blanchard, David Dino Wells Jr., Mark D. Headen, Ayanna Fullilove, Brandi Mitchell, Phil Ridarelli, Henry Sandifer, Leif Christian Andersen, Ondie Daniel, Kent Igleheart, Joe Sinopoli, Chandler George Brown|
|Producer:||Roger M. Bobb, Reuben Cannon, Michael Paseornek, Tyler Perry|
“Faith gave her hope. Fate gave her family.”
“Meet the Browns” could also be accurately called “Meet the Broadly Stereotyped, Ignorant and Cartoon-like Southern Black Buffoons.” Tyler Perry fails to refine the script of this movie, based on one of his popular plays of the same name, and takes us back in time with some of his minstrel-style characters.
Angela Basset plays Brenda, a mother of three children from three different fathers, who is struggling to make ends meet. Bassett is no stranger to portraying the careworn and abused woman with the right amount of vulnerability and determination. But her talent is wasted on a thin script and a weak co-star, Rick Fox as HENRY, her love interest, offers little more than a chiseled chin and broad smile.
The film jumps abruptly from scene to scene and seems to be missing some key transitions. For example, Brenda and her best friend Cheryl, a saucy Latino with a tendency toward violence, are walking on the street in Chicago talking about the possibility of Brenda going to Georgia to her father’s funeral. Cheryl exclaims, “Look there’s the bus!” The next scene is of a bus dropping off Brenda with her children in Georgia.
Perry’s productions have a knack for both uniting and dividing Christian audiences. Most of his plays and films are loosely based on Christian themes and include a strong Christian character to lend a moral voice to the story—and that is refreshing to Christian audiences. The divide often comes with his stereotypical characters and the raunchiness of some of his content.
“Meet the Browns”’s Christian message is like an aside and used in a formulaic way, almost like a commercial break and not essential to plot development. Although the story of a struggling single mother of an unsavory background could easily be paralleled with Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well who had five husbands (John 4:7-27), to demonstrate the love of God, Perry keeps his Christian message light, using familiar phrases like “If you feel like you are about to break, that’s when God will give you your breakthrough.”
Rather than use the potentially rich story line to truly inspire, Perry seems to force the dramatic scenes and relies on sexual innuendo and stereotypes for much of the attempted comedy. Madea, Perry’s famous gun toting, marijuana smoking, cussing matriarch makes a cameo in a ridiculous scene where she and her brother Joe (also played by Perry) are trying to outrun the cops in a highway chase.
As much as Perry’s success has opened doors in Hollywood to develop stories that are meaningful to both African American and Christian audiences, it has also defined and solidified several negative stereotypical images of both those groups. In “Meet the Browns,” for example, Mr. Brown is a deacon who wears a toupee at his father’s funeral and interrupts the minister so he can grab the spotlight, ramble nonsensically about his father and a multitude of unrelated things for hours. When so much time is spent making fun of people in the Church, any Christian representation in the film becomes more cliché than heartfelt.
“Meet the Browns” is quite a departure from Perry’s last release “Why Did I Get Married?” which was number-one at the box office and managed better balance, taking both a humorous and a serious look into the challenges that many married couples face.
I do not recommend this movie for the buffoon portrayal of Christians, the sexual innuendo, profanity and poor filmmaking quality.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.