I’ve always had a problem with Tyler Perry. Not the man, mind you – he’s always seemed like a fairly generous, warm-hearted guy – but the “performer.” I say performer instead of artist or talent because I don’t believe he is either of those. He performs. He is theatrical in virtually every way, and I would argue, the worst way.
His characters don’t speak their lines so much as project them as if they’re trying to be heard in the back row of a playhouse. This may make for entertaining theater but it’s deadly on a big screen where a little dose of subtlety can do wonders.
Maybe it was the fact that he felt the need to brand everything he does with his own name. Or that he insists on perpetuating the played-out comic conceit that the best way to portray middle-aged black women is to put a man in drag and have him traffic in the worst, most clichéd stereotypes. His trademark character, Madea, always struck me as a garish monstrosity. Sure, she delivers homespun wisdom but she’s also quick to resort to pulling out a gun if words won’t do.
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His latest film, a sequel to Why Did I Get Married, revisits four affluent couples (which include veteran actors like Malik Yoba, Michael Jai White and Sharon Leal, as well as pop stars Janet Jackson and Jill Scott) from the previous Perry film who, for completely contrived reason, go on a retreat in the Bahamas once a year to revel in their dysfunction and reminisce about why they got married in the first place. You’ll be wondering that yourself as these four incredibly uncharismatic couples alternate between deceiving and demonizing each other endlessly for two hours.