Reviewed by: Brian C. Johnson
|Featuring:||Tyler Perry … Wesley Deeds
Thandie Newton … Lindsey Wakefield
Rebecca Romijn … Heidi
Gabrielle Union … Natalie
|Producer:||Tyler Perry Studios (TPS)
Ozzie Areu … producer
Paul Hall … producer
Tyler Perry … producer
“Wesley Deeds is about to discover the person he was meant to be.”
Tyler Perry proves once again that he is a force to be reckoned with in (actually, outside) Hollywood—especially when he isn’t in a wig and body suit. His latest film, “Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds” opened this past weekend with respectable box office returns from his legions of dedicated followers. This feel-good film is sure to have some staying power as the central message of “doing what is right” will resonate with American audiences.
Once again, Perry wrote, directed, and stars in this Lionsgate release (there is something to be said for loyalty to one distribution company). Perry plays Wesley Deeds, a business executive who is at a crossroads in his life. The company he heads, that was passed down to him by his father, is in financial distress; he is engaged to a woman who is bored by her life with him; and he’s got huge family issues (a brother who has eyes to take over the company and a mother who dictates his every move). The venerable Phylicia Rashad (Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show”) aptly plays the matriarch of this well-to-do family.
If that weren’t enough, Deeds’ life is made even more complicated when he befriends a down on her luck janitor who works the night shift at his company. Thandie Newton (“Crash,”Norbit,” “Beloved”) co-stars as single mother Lindsay Wakefield who loses virtually everything, until Deeds steps into her world.
Overall, there is a positive vibe in this film. The title is appropriate, as the central message seems to focus around how Deeds is willing to use his prestige and power to change one person’s life for the better. Perry certainly seems to have his hand on the pulse of the nation’s economic crisis and how it impacts the working class, who are struggling to make ends meet. Lindsay is getting hit from all sides, and she is an inspiration, of sorts, of what it means to do whatever it takes to stay afloat and to take care of your children.
So many of these themes will resonate with Christian audiences, and the film is relatively safe, but definitely not for the entire family. As with most of Perry’s more serious offerings (see my reviews for “Why Did I Get Married Too,” “For Colored Girls”), bad language and sexuality are par for the course in this film. While there is no nudity, the film opens with a naked silhouette of Deeds in the shower (seen through a translucent shower door); this shower image is repeated during the film, as this seems to be the place where we get the inner thoughts of Deeds (who narrates the film). Deeds and his fiancée, Natalie (Gabrielle Union), are sexually intimate during the film. Many of Perry’s critics continue to question Perry as a “Christian” writer and director, when his films portray co-habitation and sex before marriage, use of bad language, and mature subject matter. I recommend parents watch the film first, to determine if their more mature teens should watch the film.
Should we save sex for marriage? Answer
One final note: Perry is a great storyteller, a visual artist behind the camera. In this film, however, he shows his lack of acting chops to be a leading man. He has had smaller supportive roles in his own films, even branching out recently in the last “Star Trek” remake, but without that dress and wig for which he is most widely known, Tyler Perry struggles to carry this movie. It’s a good thing that he was wise enough to populate the film with great actors (although I am tired of seeing Gabrielle Union playing the same-old-same-old cold and mean role).
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.