Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Your Movie Dude's Diary: A Review of DIARY OF A MAD, BLACK WOMAN

February 25th, 2005

Dear Diary,

Wow! Been awhile since I last wrote, things have been real busy. Remember my neighbor, Mrs. Neugeborn from 4H, and her little Yorkshire Terrier, Buttercup, who would leave me little smelly “treats” outside my door? Well, consider that bitch’s wagon fixed. I slipped a Grade 9 cyanide pill into one of her doggie treats. That Grade 9 stuff does more than just kill. It'll give you the explosive and violent runs just before it finishes you. Buttercup's last “treat” is sure to be her best!

Let’s see what else. Oh! I went to go see Darren Grant’s DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN today. While that guy Grant directed the film, it actually belongs more to Tyler Perry, who wrote the play that the movie is based on. He also wrote the screenplay, produced the film, scored some of the music and starred in it, too – in three roles! The story revolves around Helen (Kimberly Elise), a beautiful African-American woman (Duh…look at the title!) who gets quite a shocking 18th wedding anniversary gift from her uber-successful lawyer husband, Charles (Steve Harris): dumped for a hot Latino bird and literally kicked out of her house without a penny! Having no work experience (why do so many women seem to be not employed in movies today? What is this, 1955? Get a job!), prospects or people to turn to, she goes back to her old ‘hood in Atlanta and seeks refuge at her grandmother, Madea’s house. Guess who plays Madea? Tyler Perry! Yup, taking a page from Eddie Murphy’s NUTTY PROFESSOR diary, Perry dresses up as an old, gun-toting, tell-it-like-it-is matriarchal maelstrom. Madea lives with her even crazier brother, Joe. Guess who plays Joe? Did you say Perry? You’re so smart! Especially for a diary. Anyways, Helen ends up meeting a cutie boy-toy, Orlando, who lacks her ex-husband’s money, but yet is much bigger where it counts…in his heart! When a sub-plot twist enables Helen to have revenge on her ex, it forces him to come to depend on her. He then reforms and grows to appreciate her. By then, she must choose between her converted husband and Orlando, the man with the big heart.

That “choice” is a defining element of this DIARY, dear diary. Reading Molly Haskell’s definitive film criticism book, “From Rape To Reverence: The Treatment of Women in Film,” the “choice” film is a sub-category she uses for the so-called “women’s film” genre, of which DIARY would be a contemporary member. It is by no means a comedy, despite Perry’s Murphy-like effort; which are the best parts of the film. They are also part of the problem for a film that is otherwise highly soap-operatic and problematically melodramatic. Specifically, Orlando was so sweet to the point of being saccharine. Heck, he even plays the “cuddle-instead-of-making-love” card. Yuck! He’s too-good to be too-good-to-be-true. Plus, the film has a highly religious influence, complete with many “what would Jesus do?” type questions. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it is presented in such a manner that it did not connect with this pop-culture fed blue-state baby. Sigh.

At least, like Helen, I have my own revenge to look forward too. Maybe Buttercup is feeling the effects right now. I’m gonna go have a quick listen to see if I hear any explosions behind her door. If not, I think I’ll relax in a goat’s blood bath and drift away by reciting “I’m the prettiest of them all” over and over.

Until next time, thanks for listening, diary, about DIARY; and let’s keep the dog-poisoning and goat’s blood thing to ourselves, shall we?


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