Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise, Thankie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad. Written, directed, and produced by Tyler Perry.

FILM SYNOPSIS: The movie is based on Ntozake Shange's play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Unlike the original play which featured only seven women known by colors performing the collection of 20 poems, the movie has given each of the 20 characters names. Each of the poems deal with intense issues that particularly impact women in a thought-provoking commentary on what it means to be a female of color in the world.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I have the same problem with Tyler Perry’s handling of drama as I do with his comedy – it’s heavy-handed, over-the-top, and excessive-to the-max. While he addresses serious issues facing people in the black community and indeed, the entire community of man, he knows not the meaning of “less is more.” As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Mr. Perry gives us the picture, the thousand words, and nine thousand more.

That said, the filmmaker and his capable cast do their best to paint a picture of the turmoil black women go through because of black men. Not sure how all black men are going to take that as the film does little to promote the good in the male sex. One woman is raped while having a “nice” man over for dinner, a harried woman can’t protect her two little children from her abusive live-in boyfriend, another is promiscuous because of her overbearing “religious” mother and evidently an incestuous father, another can’t have a baby because a previous lover gave her a disease that now makes it impossible for her to conceive, another has become an overbearing Prada-wearer because her distant husband is keeping a secret (he’s gay), and a teenage woman goes to a back alley abortionist rather than let her mother know she slept with one of those nasty boys. Each is a tragic story unto itself, but we are given just about every trouble known to womankind, allowing each actress more than one scene where she gets to emote to the back of the theater.

The play incorporates poems that express the pain of womanhood, but incorporating the revealing rhymes along with visuals of each character going through her ordeal actually took away from the power of the director’s intent. If prose should be used in limitation, then poetry must be used even more sparingly.

Amid all this turmoil the one ingredient I thought surely would be added was a spiritual faith. Mr. Perry is known for adding Christian values to his Medea comedies, but it’s not really addressed here. The only one who expresses a belief in a higher being is the belligerent fanatic mother who pounds on her daughter’s door, and sometimes on her daughter, yelling “REPENT, REPENT.” Though God is not referred to, or Christ ridiculed, still believing in a higher power and subjecting oneself to holy teachings seems (uncharacteristically for a Tyler Perry movie) mocked.

I sense the filmmaker’s purpose is to aid women going through physical or mental ordeals, but it’s often hard to feel pity for characters when they spend their entire screen time feeling sorry for themselves. Again, less is more. Hold back a little and let the audience do some of the emotional heavy-lifting, Mr. Perry. There’s a great filmmaker waiting to be unleashed from writer/actor/producer/director Tyler Perry, but not until he allows others to do their job. The thing that always held Jerry Lewis back from greatness was his inability to let others carry some of the burden. Though Charlie Chaplin could put his name under several credits of a movie scroll, only a handful of successive filmmakers could successfully do the same. That said, Jerry Lewis always made money for his studios. So does Tyler Perry. They make movies for their following, not their peers and certainly not for critics. Hard to argue with that.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Around 14 uses of the f-word, and as many of the s-word; there are a few other obscenities, several minor expletives, and nearly everybody says “bitch.”

Profanity: I caught no misuse of God’s name – thank you Mr. Perry.

Violence: A woman is beaten by an abusive boyfriend, he later drops her two children out of a window, they fall to their death; though is not shown in detail, the suspense of seeing the two little ones hanging from this man’s hands out a window is disturbing; a woman attempts suicide; we see a teen girl preparing for an abortion; a woman is raped, this is seen in detail. Blood: Some blood and bruises on a woman’s face after being beaten by her live-in boyfriend.

Sex: Implied sexual situations and occasional conversations concern the sexual act; a closet gay man is seen looking at other men, but there are no homosexual acts.

Nudity: Brief male backside nudity as he prepares to rape an unsuspecting woman.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some drug and alcohol use.

Other: None

Running Time: 125 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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