Tag Archives: Tyler Perry

Boo 2!

Well, I did say it: Boo! A Madea Halloween was not that bad. I guess that’s the kind of bold statement that deserves a challenge and Tyler Perry’s putting me to the test with a sequel so it’s time to play everyone’s favourite game show: Can. She. Cope?!?!?!!

The short answer is: yes.

The surprising answer is: I’m starting to find Madea and her little crew of cronies quite endearing. Well, I think Madea (Tyler Perry), Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) and Hattie (Patrice Lovely) are endearing. Old Joe (also Perry) I could really do without – he’s a horny old bastard who’s hard on his sister Madea and inappropriate with young women, or women generally I suppose. But the trio of old biddies are quite sweet even if they’re often salty. Tyler Perry can say pretty much anything through them. He gets the chance to wear lipstick and support hose but he can also circumvent certain boundaries (and not just because he towers over his costars). This was his ninth time playing Madea (he retired her after his tenth) and I imagine it’s quite freeing to strap on her brassiere. Society has a tendency to muzzle and censor people of colour, and I think black people in particular have lacked safe spaces in which to express their anger and even their befuddlement. Madea is that safe space, which Perry has gifted to his community. Making her an older woman neuters her, renders her nonthreatening by definition, but Madea has always had a strong voice and she’s not afraid to use it.

Perry also plays a single father named Brian, who continues to struggle to raise his teenage daughter Tiffany. In the first Boo!, Tiffany snuck away to a frat party even though she was underage and expressly forbidden. Madea was forced to follow her there and you can imagine how well that went. In Boo 2!, Tiffany is now turned 18 and determined to pull a mulligan on that Halloween frat party, which has now been relocated out in an old farm house where people were recently murdered. Brian swallows his fears and allows her to go, but Madea is sure she knows better, so she and her posse of elderly super heroes play spy.

Boo 2! is not a scary Halloween movie and it loses traction when Madea isn’t on screen. Perry has said that he’s officially hung up his wig after after A Madea Family Funeral, which deserves a funeral in and of itself, he clearly being extremely comfortable in this character’s skin (and skirt, and glasses, and pearls). Madea films haven’t always been well reviewed, but they make money because Perry always finds his audience. I’m sure she will be missed.

Advertisements

Boo! A Madea Halloween

Brian (Tyler Perry) is called away from home on Halloween night but isn’t crazy about leaving his teenage daughter Tiffany (Diamond White) home alone when there’s a big frat party happening just down the street. And he’s right: that girl is scheming to be up to no good. But Brian’s solution is probably a questionable parenting decision. He calls over Madea and crew to babysit without seeming to actually be babysitting.

Tiffany is IMMEDIATELY on to them of course, and she’s got a plan for that too: make her house seem haunted. Madea (also Tyler Perry, natch) is scared. Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) is scared. Hattie (Patrice Lovely) is scared. Joe (Tyler Perry once more) is scared. But they don’t vacate. Nor do they fall for the old pillows under the covers trick. No matter how much you wanted to go to a frat party, NOTHING and I do mean nothing can be worth Madea and her posse rolling up on the party. You don’t know embarrassment until your very large great aunt busts out some vintage stripper moves. Anyway, revenge works both ways and the night is still young.

I don’t know if I’ve just seen a string of bad movies or what but Madea in an awful lot more palatable to me right now. I still don’t think this or any of them are great movies, but suddenly I’m not hating it. Is this nostalgia kicking in? Tyler Perry has announced his intention to retire the Madea character, and I’m not exactly mourning what I think of as a tired schtick, especially since I tend to love Perry in almost any other capacity. But in this movie…the fun he’s having is often infectious. The good news is, he has very recently opened Tyler Perry Studios, which means there will be plenty of output to replace the Madea content. Tyler Perry Studios was purchased and established in Atlanta, 330 acres of the former Fort McPherson. Not only is this one of the largest film production studios in the nation, it makes Tyler Perry the first African-American to outright own a major film production studio. Friends including Spike Lee, Oprah, and Beyonce (maybe you’ve heard of them?) came out to celebrate. And I’m guessing pretty soon, we all will.

 

 

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.

Vice

So Dick Cheney is an evil piece of shit. You may remember him from such roles as acting like a cardboard cutout of the American Vice President while he secretly usurped the president’s powers to rewrite the U.S. Constitution, orchestrate wars, and author ISIS.

Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) is a power-hungry beast who doesn’t let anything stop him from acting as the Leader of the Free World – not ethics, not the well-defined roles of President and Vice President, not democracy, not NUTHIN. Adam McKay’s film, Vice, MV5BMDY1MTdkODgtZjYyYy00ZTQ4LTliN2YtOWZhZGFiMzNmNjdjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzg2ODI2OTU@._V1_shows Cheney’s reluctance to be George W.’s running mate. Even though Cheney views VP as a “zero job,” he is always thinking dozens of steps ahead; he’s not going to sit around waiting for the president to die so he can wear the crown. In W., Cheney found a moron so empty, so distracted, so willing to give away all the actual power, and Cheney’s astute enough to surreptitiously pull the oval office throne right out from under Bush Junior. McKay brings Cheney’s machinations to the silver screen – every scheme, every lie and every gory detail.

This movie takes some big risks and its story-telling bravely exists outside the normal narrative bounds (though fans of The Big Short won’t find it nearly so fresh). With such big swings, there are inevitably some big misses.  This movie didn’t always work for me, but I still admired it for having such a distinct voice.

Christian Bale undergoes quite a transformation to play Cheney, though I never forgot I was watching Bale like I did when I was watching Sam Rockwell play Dubyah. Credit to the actors of course, but I believe the incredible hair and makeup effects team will be recognized for astonishing work – Tyler Perry as Colin Powell is a prime example. Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld and Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney round out an enviable cast doing some very fine work.

Unfortunately, the script isn’t consistent. This isn’t really a Dick Cheney biopic, it’s the incredible true story of how a rogue Vice President hijacked George W. Bush’s entire administration. It would be a monumentally impressive heist if it wasn’t so mind-meltingly devastating to the world at large. But to tell the story in sufficient detail, McKay has to take some moon-gravity-sized leaps. Decades of Cheney’s life are not just gone, but forgotten, which results in some swiss-cheese-plot-holes that were hard to forgive – though a liberal sprinkling of heart attacks like sea salt on fries went a long way.

The truth is, though, that Sean and I dissected this movie backwards and forwards and then we poked at it from the side too, over Doritos-dusted mac and cheese bites, and while that doesn’t mean Vice is a flawless movie, it must mean that it’s a good one, a worthy one. In fact, part of its brilliance is how it draws you in at the end, turning audience members into characters partially responsible for these atrocities. Vice depicts events of recent history, and like it or not, we’re complicit, and McKay inspires us to take a hard look in the mirror and a cold drink at the well of social responsibility.

Brain On Fire

Susannah is working her dream job at a newspaper in New York City, but just as it seems as though the 21 year old has it all together – a cute apartment, a musician boyfriend, and a hot assignment from her boss things start to go wonky.

A super caring (read: sarcasm) doctor diagnoses her with “partying too hard” based on the one glass of wine she cops to drinking occasionally but something’s definitely up and whatever it is, it ain’t that. She’s not acting like herself. She zones out. She convulses with seizures. What the heck is happening with Susannah?

MV5BNjE4OTcyZDUtN2Y0My00NzlhLWJhODgtMjZlMTNjNzU0ZDIzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDkwNTM3OTA@._V1_In theory this is an interesting little mystery, but on tape it’s surprisingly boring. Chloe Grace Moretz “acts” a great range of symptoms by making crazy eyes and flaring her nostrils while we maintain a polite distance. In fact, there’s such a remove that’s built-in it kind of makes me feel like I’m visiting my own sick relative and just nosily eavesdropping on Susannah’s shit.

I read the book on which this movie is based and it didn’t really light my fire either. Not to make light of her disease, but I sort of think a brain on fire is preferable to what this movie did to mine, ie, turned it into pea soup. Now I’m going to have to stand on one foot and hop up and down trying to mushify those peas and get them draining out the various holes in my face. You know, best case scenario.

Anyway, I’m sure there’s some weird network on television that airs diseases of the week, and that’ll be no worse than this, but your expectations should be more realistically aligned. This movie is just a no for me. I would have rather spent the time in the waiting room of my local ER – at least as long as there are KitKats in the vending machine.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman

I guess I keep thinking that if I watch this movie enough, I’ll finally understand it. I mean, I can follow the plot. It’s the tone that’s like monkeys throwing poop. It zooms between farce, romance, and drama. It’s from 2005 but feels a decade older. It uses and overuses montages and voice-overs to frost over the crumbly bits. And then it gets DARK.

MadeaA woman, Helen (Kimberly Elise) is thrown out of her home when her philandering husband finally gets tired of her after 18 years. The pre-nup says she gets nothing.  Helen is broken but her grandmother is there to put her back together – the grandmother being played by Tyler Perry, of course, in his first appearance as the famous Madea.

Even if you’ve never seen a Madea movie, you know that she’s loud and proud. Of course she is. Perry is hamming it up for all he’s worth. He knew this was his chance to spawn himself a franchise, and he did. A whole empire, in fact.

Tyler Perry is a talented man. I don’t love Madea the way some do, but it is refreshing to see every day families and strong women taking centre tumblr_o17xxnYxbI1thd7hoo1_500stage. He writes what he knows. And Perry knows his audience too, an audience that Hollywood largely ignores. His movies routinely make $50M against a budget half that – it’s a rate of return you can’t ignore.

63Madea has her roots in a series of plays that Tyler Perry wrote and staged across the country. They were filmed and available on video for years before he got to make a movie. But after a string of successes, on the big screen and the small, now he’s got carte blanche. Good for him. He circumvented obstacles by doing it all himself and never compromised a principle.

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.