Reviewed by: Davita Westbrook
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
Review: DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN
|Featuring:||Tyler Perry, Blair Underwood, Henry Simmons, Boris Kodjoe, Jenifer Lewis|
|Producer:||Michael Paseornek, Peter Block, Tyler Perry|
|Distributor:||Lion’s Gate Films|
“There’s nothing broken that can’t be fixed with love.”
Mabel “Madea” Simmons (Tyler Perry) returns as a pistol-packin’, no nonsense Southern matriarch, who struggles both with her new role as court-appointed foster mother to Nikki (Keke Palmer), and the various trials and travails of assorted family members, all while trying to organize this year’s family reunion.
The main story revolves around two sisters, Lisa (Rochelle Aytes) and Vanessa (Lisa Arrendell Anderson) and their grasping, evil diva of a mother Victoria, played with ferocious glee by the incomparable Lynn Whitfield. Victoria clearly tries to live her own life through one daughter, while mistreating the other. Lisa is engaged to Carlos (Blair Underwood), a successful, but verbally and physically abusive lawyer, while Vanessa tentatively explores a relationship with Frankie, a bus driver, (Boris Kodjoe), and deals with her own issues around sexual abuse and single parenthood.
The stories culminate in two powerful scenes, the family reunion and a spectacular wedding, where the values of love, forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, and family are all on full display.
Unfortunately, virtues of the film notwithstanding, the moral issues will give new, and less-seasoned Christians considerable cause for concern. Mature Christians will understand that we live in a world where everyone does not proclaim Christ. Madea is not saved, she s not claiming to be, but she is a conduit for truth, through her love for her family and the many affirmations and encouragement she passes on to her foster child.
Uncle Joe (also played by Tyler Perry) is no doubt supposed to be played for comic relief, but this time out, as opposed to his appearance in Perry’s debut effort “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”, the character is lewd, vulgar and objectionable. He’s not funny; he’s crude. The potty humor, combined with a potty mouth, are more than some Christians will be able to tolerate. A particular scene with several old men, ogling a young female relative no less, is particularly disturbing juxtaposed against Vanessa’s struggle to overcome childhood sexual assault by a trusted family member.
Language is also be an issue. I lost count of the h***(s), and you can expect a few d***(s), a couple of illegitimate child’(s), and a couple of more female dogs’. Perry is famously anti-profanity, but skittish and sensitive viewers will not appreciate the words that do appear, especially for pre-teen children, no matter how authentic the language is to the characters.
Violence is relatively mild. Madea does not take her pistol from her purse (although we all know it’s there); she’s mostly all bark and a little bite (ask the boy on the bus). Oh, and I’m sure Nikki, the new foster child, would have something to say about the spanking she receives after skipping school. However, the violence that is depicted in the form of domestic abuse is intense and disturbing. Blair Underwood gives the most nuanced, affecting and true-to-life performance in the movie. Menacing, barely restrained violence pulses beneath the surface of his urbane, sophisticated exterior; it is palpable and disturbing. Carlos controls and intimidates Lisa, and her fear becomes the audience’s fear. It is brilliantly captured and extremely terrifying. The intensity of these scenes would be inappropriate for all but the most mature teenagers. Be prepared to talk about it. The issue needs to be raised, because too many live with the reality of domestic violence on a daily basis, but know that the depiction is frighteningly real.
For the most part, the women are modestly (and beautifully) attired. At the family reunion, the younger women dance suggestively and are realistically shown wearing today’s inappropriate clothing. A number of bare-chested men appeared evocatively and surprisingly throughout. Those with eye-gate concerns: consider yourself warned.
On the positive side, Tyler Perry should be celebrated for his bold, and courageous stand against premarital sex, violence, and hardcore language in his films and plays. The film portrays Frankie and Vanessa’s budding romantic relationship sweetly and innocently, and their respective children are included in most of their interactions. Their one kiss is warm and brief. There is one scene where they fall asleep in the same bed, their children interspersed between them. Though some will no doubt be concerned with the “appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22), the scene is tender and loving. Frankie and Vanessa unapologetically and firmly proclaim their intention to save sex for marriage, an important and too seldom seen message for teenagers and adults alike.
Of particular note are the brief but profound performances of Cicely Tyson, who reprises her role as Madea’s sister-in-law Myrtle, and Maya Angelou, the voices of wisdom and experience (Titus 2). At the reunion, the family gathers, young and old, to listen to Myrtle exhort the younger generation of men and women to “remember where they came from” and to treat each other with love, dignity and respect, all under the loving gaze of 96-year old “Aunt Ruby.”
And finally the spectacular wedding scene provides a touching and dramatic culmination of all the earlier drama. The scene will strain credulity, as does most of the film, but you may forgive the sentimentality because of the raw, heartwarming expressions of love. Perry knows his way around pretty words. Fans of Orlando, from Diary, who famously says, “I carry you in my spirit. I pray for you more than I pray for myself,” will not be disappointed.
From a moviemaking standpoint, there are numerous plot implausibilities, too-tidy solutions to difficult problems, a healthy serving of melodrama and soap-opera-like shenanigans. Brian (Tyler Perry) reappears from the first film, but his wife Debra is explained away as being “in the kitchen” and daughter Tiffany, who tutors Nikki, is never seen. While this may work in the play world, the more sophisticated movie-going audience will be disappointed. We want to see the characters we fell in love in the first film. Earlier trailers for the movie showed Isaac (the underutilized Henry Simmons) and Brian having a conversation where Isaac bemoans the fact that he never had a man in his life to show him how to be a good husband and father. Brian responds by saying, we have to be a generation of men who changes that. Inexplicably, this clip must have ended up on the cutting room floor, along with a good bit of the character and plot development. Another thirty minutes might have afforded the story the time it needed to be fully drawn.
The challenge for filmmakers like Perry is realistically presenting the lives of non-Christians and Christians alike, without offending the sensibilities of either group. Striking that balance is an ongoing concern, and in my opinion, Perry is to be applauded for taking a stand for righteousness. However, this time out, the message of salvation (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17) is muted against the backdrop of questionable language and behavior that will be difficult for some to overlook. The first film was unabashedly about Jesus; in this the film, the message is still there, but not as strongly framed. The Bible says, if our message is hid, it’s hid to them who are lost (2 Corinthians 4:3).
Perry is lovingly telling the story of African American families with characters that are flawed, human and recognizable, and he’s conveying a message of hope that transcends the boundaries of culture, gender and age. He is undaunted in his quest to keep his movies clean, and always with a Christian theme and message. In this film, however, there are not enough positive images to recommend it without extensive reservation. But because his motive is agreeable with Scripture and his message is the gospel of salvation, I will continue to pray for and support Tyler Perry, so he can persevere in being a light in a dark place (Matthew 5:14-16).
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See our review of the prequel to this movie: DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.