Movie Review

Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving a sexual assault on a minor, violence, drug references and smoking.

Reviewed by: Elisa A. Walker
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Comedy, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 53 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
September 11, 2009 (wide—2,100+ theaters)
DVD: January 12, 2010
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Featuring: Tyler Perry, Taraji P. Henson, Adam Rodriguez, Brian White, Hope Olaide Wilson, Kwesi Boakye, Frederick Siglar, Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige, Marvin Winans, Eric Mendenhall, David Paulus, Randall Taylor, Tess Malis Kincaid, Joseph Edward Taylor, Cheryl B. Pratt, Judith Franklin, Jameaka Tubbs, Thomasina Walker, Jamilah Windham, Greta Glenn, Tanya R. Rodriguez, Toni Redd, Shedrick Garrett, Jean Witty
Director: Tyler Perry
Producer: The Tyler Perry Company, Roger M. Bobb, Reuben Cannon, Jerry P. Jacobs, Michael Paseornek, Tyler Perry
Distributor: Lionsgate Films

“Hope is closer than you think.”

review updated Sept. 22, 2009

Writer, actor, director and producer, Tyler Perry has done it again. “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” is another great film filled with laughter, tears, and love. After breaking into Madea’s (Tyler Perry) house, Jennifer, Manny, and Byron (Hope Olaide Wilson, Kwesi Boakye, and Frederick Siglar) are sent to live with their selfish, drunk Aunt April (Taraji P. Henson). And so their story of finding love, God and a life worth living for, begins.

“I Can Do Bad All By Myself” is the quintessential Tyler Perry movie. With blunt comedy and intense drama mixed together, believable characters and a darn-good storyline, you’re sure to get your money’s worth. Madea is her usual, crazy, funny, and violent self; who gives wisdomatic biblical advice that isn’t always sound, but somehow always points to God. For example, young Jennifer asks Madea if she can teach her to pray; after some hesitation Madea agrees and ends up teaching Jennifer that in order to stop drowning, one must simply keep their eyes on Jesus and not get distracted; and that by saying a prayer in Jesus’ name, puts a stamp on that prayer and ensures it goes to Heaven. As funny as this statement sounds, it is true; without Jesus there would be no salvation or any personal relationship with Him, though her doctrine may be off, even Madea realizes that Jesus is the key. “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:27,30).

At first look, any Tyler Perry film, can be viewed as blasphemous or a film that simply makes fun of Christians; on the contrary, Mr. Perry is a self-proclaiming Christian that purposely weaves his comedic, no nonsense Madea character in with a Christian storyline. In order for the viewer to survive his intense storylines, they need the comedic relief that Madea brings. Particularly in this film, churchgoers are seen as good people who care about their neighbors and are there for each other. Pastor Brian (Marvin Winans) tells his congregation that they are worth helping, are valuable and will be alright because God will get them through whatever they’re going through. Other lessons are learned, Manny states that he doesn’t ever want to steal again because of how hard Madea is making him and his siblings work after they stole from her. “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” really shows viewers what a good community does for each other and how people should be treating each other. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these”; “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Mark 12:31; Matthew 7:12).

Offensive Content

Language: There were several uses of “Hell” and “Damn”, a couple uses of “A**”, and 1 use of “Hooker”. The cursing was kept mild as far as the actual substance of the words used and was moderate concerning the amount of times a word was used.

Violence: As usual Madea threatens people, April attempts to electrocute Randy (Brian J. White) in a tub, after he tries to rape her niece—also Sandino beats Randy up after this same incident.

Sex: April is sleeping with Randy who is married to a pregnant woman, but nothing is ever shown, except them sleeping in the same bed together (underneath sheets that cover them). And when Randy is in the tub and April attempts to electrocute him, he jumps out and for a split-second his backside is exposed.

Offensive content and behaviour such as this (and the miscellanous items listed below) were not glorified in any way and were shown to be wrong, and the film provides a godly resolution at the end.

Miscellaneous: There are a couple of scenes in the nightclub where April works, so drinking, dancing, and smoking is seen, but nothing extreme, just what you would expect at a nightclub. Jennifer has a horrible attitude towards everyone she comes in contact with, but soon realizes that there are better ways to treat others. Uncle Joe (Tyler Perry) makes a comment about his weed being stolen. Also, references are made to the children’s mother who was a crack head and was abusive to them. And, Tyler Perry does dress as Madea who is a woman, but cross-dressing is never glorified, the character Madea is a woman, not a man pretending to be a woman, but a woman—much like the film “Hairspray” with John Travolta’s character.

My Recommendation

The language, sexual, and violent content were kept at bay, making “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” a good movie for older teens (who can deal with mature thematic elements) and adults (who can look past the above-stated offensive content). This film gave my parents and me several different things to talk about and made our conversation very enjoyable. With a first-rate script, superior actors, and a skillful plot, “Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All by Myself” is a must-see (but not for kids)!

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—All that is in this review is correct. My wife and I were pleasantly surprised at how good this film was a must see.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Joe Petrone, age 53 (USA)
Positive—I thought this was Tyler Perry’s best film yet. The directing and acting were fantastic. I found myself sitting in the theater with hands raised praising God at certain points, tears flowing at others, and laughing in between the two. Without giving away too much of the plot, Tyler Perry was a trendsetter with this movie. It is one of the first of its kind as it relates to relationships with African-American women. Hooray for Tyler Perry. When I first heard the title of the movie, I thought about a woman talking about her finances. (I did not see Tyler Perry’s stage play stage play which the movie was based on.) The movie deals with so much more than that.

April’s situation is a reflection of a lot of women’s situation in way or another. Either her childhood or adulthood. Of course Madea added her special touch to the film, without necessarily being one of the main actresses. When you watch Madea in action, don’t take her too seriously. That is not her purpose. She is strictly there to add a bit of comedy to an otherwise very serious storyline.

For example, her account of Peter and his “walking on the water” experience was obviously inaccurate, but don’t take it seriously. It was meant to be funny. Or when Madea was reluctantly teaching Jennifer how to pray, that was funny but the beginning of it had a ring of truth for some African-American churches. She did explain, in rather simple terms, the importance of ending our prayers “in Jesus' name.” In other words lighten up in regards to Madea.

There were a very limited amount of curse words in the form of he__, da__, and a couple of a__es (I can count them on my hands) dispersed throughout the course of this almost two hour movie. No F-bombs or anything like that. Much better than the average PG-13 movie.

I do not recommend taking young children to see this movie, but it may be a good movie for mature teenagers. I think some great dialogue between parents and children could come from it. I give Tyler Perry two thumbs up for this one. Bravo.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Rulanda Taylor, age 34 (USA)
Positive—“I Can Do Bad All by Myself” was outstanding. I am a single mom and strong Christian. I am thankful for the message this movie sends to single moms and women not to lower their values in order to pay bills and put up with abuse. I brought my teenager with me. It was a movie that touched his heart. He a strong athlete and not many movies has ever got his attention like that one. He was open to listen/talk about the things of God after this movie. Also I appreciate that Tyler Perry showed “true love” is greater than racial barriers. You must watch “I Can Do Bad All by Myself.” I believe it was one of the best Christian movies I seen in a long time.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ann, age 50 (USA)
Positive—This movie is fantastic! There are funny moments and moments that will grab you. I too felt like raising my hands up to praise the Lord at one point. We need more movies of this genre. Hallelujah!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jerry, age 55 (Canada)
Positive—This movie is fantastic! There are funny moments and moments that will grab you. I too felt like raising my hands up to praise the Lord at one point. We need more movies of this genre. Hallelujah!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jerry, age 55 (Canada)
Positive—LOVED IT, LOVED IT, LOVED IT. My husband and I laughed, cried, and were deeply moved by the characters. I was amazed at how adeptly the movie handled some very sensitive issues. This movie had absolutely nothing in it that offended me. That being said, it has everything in it that was listed in the review. Then again, so does the Bible (let’s see, Noah got drunk, David got a married woman pregnant and killed her husband when he wouldn’t “cooperate” to cover his sin, Tamar pretended to be a prostitute so that her father-in-law fathered her child, David’s son raped his sister, need I go on?)

What I loved about this mainstream movie was that hope and healing ultimately was found in the church from a personal encounter with God. And the service where she found it, in my opinion, was beautiful. The reverend and the deaconess that assisted him were consistently sensitive and loving, and represented the church in a very positive way. It would be difficult to tell the characters' stories without depicting their pain. This movie gave me hope, that God can reach into the most difficult of circumstances, and bring about change. Madea made me laugh out loud. Her tale of Peter walking on the water reminded me of how little kids get their Bible stories all tangled together. I thought it was hilarious.

In response to the reviewer who did not see the film, I would have no issues showing this film at church. I’m assuming the reviewer is talking about white middle class church??? For example, maybe I would show it to a group of single mom’s who were struggling. Or maybe people who can’t relate to the way of life shown in the film who want to reach out, start a new ministry, or be part of an existing one. For teenage girls who’ve been abused, abandoned, you name it. I can think of lots of applications. The church is comprised of all types of people from all types of backgrounds and life experiences. People who meet Christ late in life (and many who knew Him when they were young) have all types of sordid pasts, just like Biblical characters. For me, in my life, and I think for the characters in the movie, it teaches us a great deal about God’s truly amazing grace.

I would recommend this movie to viewers ages 14/15 and up (12 and up if they’ve come from a rough background).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jenny, age 33 (USA)
Positive—***This review has plot spoilers.*** This was an excellent film. I cried for days after seeing it. Some review it negatively, because of the ugliness portrayed in it. Sin is ugly, and it leaves deep wounds. There is no way to sugar coat this ugliness. April is extremely selfish and carnal. She always has a cig in one hand, a drink in the other, and a married man in her bed. She is so self centered that she doesn’t care one whit about her sister’s orphaned children.

Sandino the handyman is her antithesis. He is the most genuinely caring, loving selfless individual one could imagine. People always ask him “why are you being so nice” or “why do you care.” They both came to be the way they were due to childhood trauma. She chose to protect herself from hurt with behavior that would push all others away. He chose to care for others because he knew so deeply what it was to have nobody.

more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Laura S., age 45 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I do not know if this movie was actually intended to be classified a “Christian movie” or not, but I definitely would not recommend it to anyone. I watched it because it was considered “above average,” and I usually agree with the rating given. For this one, I am extremely surprised that it has received so much praise, and that the one negative review received a chastizing sermon. That was undeserved.

I have several grievances with this movie. First, the profanity is rampant throughout the movie and there seems to be no break from it at all. Profanity is offensive enough, but when it is constant and it is used in such a humorous way that you can’t help but laugh AND feel ashamed for laughing at the same time—my spirit was doubly grieved by that. Second, I was constantly embarassed for my husband because of the immodesty throughout the movie. I found myself apologizing to him scene after scene because of scantily clothed women, and we had to continue forwarding to the next track of the movie to avoid it.

Fortunately, we could still follow the story enough while doing this, hoping it would get better, but again, my spirit was grieved. Third, there is “another gospel” in this movie that is not the true gospel. Does it amaze anyone else that a woman can be freed from her bondage simply because a man shows love to her and she sang a general prayer for God to help her?

The pastor’s sermon was fluff and religious hype. There was no mention of Jesus as Savior and Lord and no call to turn away from the world in order to have an unadulterated relationship with Jesus. The world and the church were married and best of friends throughout. Again, grief and even nausea with that.

Jesus said in Revelation that He wants us either hot or cold, but lukewarm followers He will spew out of His mouth. I have other grievances with “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” but I deem this enough to steer a viewer into another direction.

There ARE parts of this movie that are acceptable and even admirable; but in the end, if you are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and how He feels about it, you will feel regret for seeing it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Susan McCracken, age 39 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
After reading the review for “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” I must strongly disagree with how the reviewer rated the film “Better than Average.” I have not seen this film nor do I plan to because of the amount of filth contained in it. Fornication, adultery, profanity, “weed” (drugs), alcohol, violence, false doctrine, attempted rape, attempted murder (all of these came from the review). Does the list ever end? Please, my brothers and sisters, no not be deceived into thinking that watching these kind of films is “OK.” We should not recommend watching these types of films to other believers or unbelievers, we should be warning each other to steer clear of the filth that Hollywood is producing. Older teens, adults, or persons of all ages should not be supporting films that contain extreme worldliness to include “I Can Do Bad All By Myself.” Please ask yourself this question before you pop a movie into the DVD player, “Would I be able to play this film in front of my congregation?” 1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Please friends, do not see this sin glorifying movie. It does not deserve a “Better than Average” rating on this Web site. Grace and peace in Him
—Karl, age 24 (USA)

Neutral—My comment is for Karl, whose post particularly struck me in a negative fashion this morning. Dearest Karl. I know that you long for the world to be a perfect place, and for the film industry to portray the world as such a place. However, this is quite simply not the case. Now, with that being said, I do not proclaim Tyler Perry as the voice of a generation. His films are flawed in many ways, and I believe that are a bit overrated.

With that being said, I must also point out that his intentions seem to be pure. As an artist, whether it be Tyler Perry or Stanley Kubrick, it is your job to present “truth.” What is truth, you may ask? People have been asking that same question for many years. Why, Pontius Pilate himself even pondered upon this from time to time! To me, truth, as it is portrayed in art, should be a reflection of the world around us.

Now, I personally cannot speak for you, Karl, but the last time I stepped outside of my home and into the real world, I encountered things at work and at school that may have been unpleasant. I heard language that some may consider offensive. Heck, I even have friends who have made various mistakes throughout their lives. Some of them were pretty bad! And yet, when I got home, and looked in the mirror, I realized that I too had made some of the very same mistakes that my friends had made, and that I was, indeed, not perfect. The most shocking thing was last night, when I opened my Bible to read it. I mean, this is God’s word, and all of the naughty things that you had listed in your post were indeed present: “Fornication, adultery, profanity, ‘weed’ (drugs), alcohol, violence, false doctrine, attempted rape, attempted murder.” Now, I don’t know much about the weed, but I do know that God felt that all of these elements were important enough to include them in His book, the Book of Life!

Really, when you think about it, the Bible is a book about sin, and God’s grace intersecting and redeeming sinners. Seems to me like this is what Tyler Perry is trying to convey with his film. Really, when you think about it, this is what most artists, whether “Christian” or “secular” are trying to do with their work. I guess some of us just think we are above sin, or something to that effect. My brother in Christ, Karl…dear Karl, let us not fall into the trap of righteous pretentiousness. Let art speak for itself.

Clearly, it’s all there in your Bible as well, so no matter what you do, you can’t escape the fact that sin exists, and must be dealt with, whether that be through Bible study or a particular art form. It may be a tough concept for most people to handle, but that’s just the way it is. If I have offended you, Karl, in any way, I apologize, for that was certainly not my intention. As for the film itself, not one of Perry’s best, but better than the rest!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Steven Adam Renkovish, age 27 (USA)

Positive—While I have not seen the movie, I did see the screenplay and most other T. Perry screenplays/movies. After reading the viewer responses I was inclined to respond to one not recommending this film for children. While some fortunate children do not have to know about or deal with the evils of the world yet—a lot do. I have used Madea and T.P. screenplays/movies to open avenues of communications with children that have helped them to understand, deal with and work out issues in their own lives; T.P. productions as well as the character of Madea are extremely valuable door opening and teaching tools for equipping children to deal with “the hard stuff”. And even the fortunate children WILL get that eventually!

The fact that Madea’s theology is a bit off (LOL) is comical, yes, but she still looks to the Bible for the advice she gives—and she ain’t 'fraid to give it—praise God! A lesson for all of us… As for Karl, well, we are not to be of the world—not to love the sin—but we are to love the person. In fact, we are to love “that” person as we love ourselves. Love—the greatest commandment. you can read about it in 1 Corinthainans 13, and I will be praying for you, Karl!
—L. Bustamante, age 49 (USA)