Reviewed by: Elisa A. Walker
|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|
|Producer||The Tyler Perry Company, Roger M. Bobb, Reuben Cannon, Jerry P. Jacobs, Michael Paseornek, Tyler Perry|
“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).
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.
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.
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!
Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
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!