Many women would kill to be in Lisa’s position – she’s about to wed a handsome, successful investment banker- yet she views her approaching nuptials with a sense of foreboding. What no one knows is that her “dream man” beats her and won’t let her go. Well, everyone that is except her controlling prima donna of a mother, who admonishes Lisa to “stop doing whatever it is that upsets him.” Lisa’s sister Vanessa, who has lived as an outcast for refusing to suffer her mother’s will, urges Lisa to leave, but is so caught up in her own past that she refuses to recognize when a near perfect man crosses her path. As “the day” draws near, secrets will unfold, lives will be forever altered and Madea, the family matriarch, will be at the center of the maelstrom to distribute solace and pain.
Sit still honey and I'll put you out of your misery.
I missed the press screening for Tyler Perry’s freshman effort “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” after being roped into “the meeting that never ends.” None of the reviewers I spoke with that evening could come up with a positive comment about the film, and most seemed oddly confused about the experience. Not relishing the prospect of sitting through yet another dog, I opted to focus on the slate of upcoming screenings instead. So when I heard that Perry had a new project I was determined to check it out for myself. Where’s a meeting when you need it?
I get nervous whenever I see Tarantino-style in your face style promotion, so when I saw “Tyler Perry’s” emblazoned across the movie’s promo poster it didn’t exactly put me at ease. After Perry’s name appeared four separate times in the opening credits, I was feeling decidedly queasy. But nothing could have prepared me for his first scene: decked out in an ill-fitting hideous looking dress, caked on make-up and sporting pendulous breasts that hang down to his waist, the six foot four Perry’s Madea looks like a tacky transvestite clown. Cue the confusion.
While I have no doubt that there are people that are as despicable and clueless as the characters in the movie, their presentation onscreen is so ridiculous that they are reduced to caricatures. There is also a disturbing dichotomy when it comes to the subject of violence. The audience is subjected to and expected to be horrified by spousal abuse (and rightly so). Yet when it comes to children, apparently not only is violence okay it’s funny. I sat slack-jawed as Madea uttered vicious threats against teenagers or laid a smack down – literally - on anyone who didn’t bow to her will and other characters burst into uncontrolled laughter. Ironically, the episode of “Good Times” where Janet Jackson is being abused by her mother is playing in the background and Madea turns off the tv when it nears the crucial scene. Apparently its okay to beat kids as long as you don’t pull out an iron. The number of scenes that were left hanging especially annoyed me.
In one scene the audience is subjected to the horrors of spousal abuse and Perry, clearly not knowing what to do with the scene, segues into a fart joke. In another, instance, Lisa learns of the traumas inflicted on her sister by their mother, yet there are no recriminations. Soon after Lisa inexplicably leaves with her mother and returns to her fiance, knowing full well that her mother is in cahoots with her abuser. It makes no sense.
Clearly I am not the demographic that this movie is intended for, but I find it inconceivable that anyone could find this abysmal mess funny. The movie’s sporadic feel-good sentiments - like Cicely Tyson’s great “respect yourself” speech - are buried beneath horrendous performances and a story that is replete with astonishingly ignorant and offensive messages. What’s more disturbing is that this drivel will probably end up being number one at the box office this weekend.