Tag Archives: Tika Sumpter

Nobody’s Fool

Danica (Tika Sumpter) has a great job, a gorgeous apartment, and a nice boyfriend named Charlie. Her perfect, pretty life is about to be disrupted when her sister Tanya (Tiffany Haddish) crashes with her post-prison. Tanya is impressed by Danica’s lifestyle but dismissive of the hard work it takes to achieve and maintain it. And she’s immediately suspicious of Charlie, a year-long relationship that’s taken place solely over the internet. She’s about to blow shit up.

Meanwhile, Danica innocently starts her days at her favourite coffee shop where owner Frank (Omari Hardwick) pines for her and plies her with free caffeine. Danica is faithful MV5BMTYxNTE2NjgzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTU2NTM3NTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1499,1000_AL_to Charlie but Tanya sees potential, and enlists Danica’s friend and coworker Kalli (Amber Riley) to help shake things up. So now Danica has a tough choice to make: the perfect on paper Charlie who she’s never even met, or the rough around the edges Frank who is kind to her but doesn’t meet all her requirements.

Even as I’m writing this, I’m reminded again what a fine premise this is. It’s just too bad that Tiffany Haddish ruins things by being off-leash one too many times. The movie and its story get totally derailed by her constant mid-scene stand-up specials. We get it, Haddish: you’re funny. I don’t even disagree. But there’s a time and a place and director Tyler Perry is too cowed to tell her that. So off she goes, improvising her little heart out, destroying any momentum the film’s earned, and any interest the audience has. I was so put off by Tanya’s constant threats against her sister’s life that for me, the only real comedy came from Whoopi Goldberg, who plays their pothead mother.

Nobody’s Fool failed to win me over, and I refuse to be made a fool by it. There are good ingredients but Tyler Perry doesn’t quite mix it right, or in the right proportions, so the resulting cake is undercooked with uneven flavour.

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A Madea Christmas

Lacey (Tika Sumpter) calls to tell her mother that unfortunately she won’t be able to make it home for Christmas this year. What she really means is: I’m hiding a white boyfriend from you. But she can’t bring herself to say it due to her mother’s weak heart, so she makes her excuses and begs off. What Lacey’s mother Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford) hears is: Mama, I love you, I miss you terribly, please make my Christmas dreams come true by showing up unannounced. Which of course Eileen does, with none other than aunt Madea in tow.

10986_1Eileen and Madea (Tyler Perry) think white boyfriend -Connor is just the “farm hand” and Eileen finds all kinds of clever ways to be rude and dismissive. And when Connor’s parents (Kathy Najimy, Larry the Cable Guy) show up (invited), the house is crowded and Eileen’s attitude goes into overdrive.

I usually really dislike Madea movies, I find them juvenile and too ludicrous to laugh at. I’m not sure if this one is better than average or if I’ve just watched too many schmaltzy Hallmark holiday movies, but this particular one I managed to make peace with. A Madea Christmas is a ‘Who’s who?’ ( note the question mark, it’s a real difference maker) of washed up, c-list celebrities of yesteryear. Chad Michael Murray plays a real redneck racist, and the costume designer slaps an American flag on every available surface of his clothing to prove it (and this, mind you, is pre-Trump, and downright prescient).

Tyler Perry is a genius, and while I don’t usually like his Madea brand of comedy, plenty of people do, which is why he keeps churning them out (to the tune of 500 MILLION DOLLARS). Perry claims that his next Madea film, due out in 2019, will also be his (and her) last, after 15 years of films, a real end of an era. I suppose now’s the perfect time to binge some of the canon, and A Madea Christmas isn’t a bad place to start, especially if you’ve got an aversion to anything overtly romantic or princessy, or – puke alert – both. Maybe Perry’s just on point when the material’s about race, but Madea seemed funnier to me than she ever has before, and I gave up more than a few chuckles before the film was finished. Comedy is hard, and no joke appeals to everyone. I’m realizing that we tend to be much harder on comedies that don’t quite work than on dramas that don’t quite work, but the truth is, I’m grateful to funny people who make the effort. Of course they’re not all out-of-the-parkers, few can be, but a swing and a miss means they’re still in the majors and I’m in the stands, ready to laugh.