Tyler Perry’s fifth drama not up to par

When it comes to the world of black melodrama, multi-hyphenate Tyler Perry knows his stuff. With box office successes such as former hits “Madea’s Family Reunion” and “Why Did I Get Married?” Perry has undoubtedly proven himself to be a bankable Hollywood screenwriter.

However, that does not mean all of his works are faultless.

“Meet the Browns,” the latest movie from the writer/actor/director/producer, may just prove to be the weakest link of the five films Perry has crafted so far. That isn’t exactly a bad thing given Perry’s rather impressive history; however, it is not exactly a good thing either.

“Meet the Browns” revolves around the character of Brenda, played beautifully by powerhouse actress Angela Bassett. Brenda is a determined, hardworking woman who is desperately trying to make ends meet. The bills keep coming and the groceries are always scarce. It’s just the right combination to form a typical Perry drama.

However, instead of taking place essentially in Atlanta, Perry switches to the urban streets of Chicago to showcase Brenda raising her three children. Her eldest child, Michael, portrayed by Lance Gross of TBS’s “House of Payne,” another Perry-written comedy, has dreams of becoming a star basketball player, as does every other black male teenager in films today.

Brenda does everything in her power to keep her son out of trouble, but of course temptation is always lurking around the corner.

A wooden Rick Fox shows up as a coach who wants to recruit Michael for the NBA and soon after Brenda receives a letter informing her that her father has died. She finds herself trucking down to Georgia. It is then that the audience is introduced to a cast of colorful, flamboyant characters including Brown, played by a hilarious David Mann, a fan-favorite among Madea fans.

Both Brown and his thigh-slapping sister Vera, portrayed by the sassy and very confident Jenifer Lewis, prove to be quite funny. However, the laughs they provide, combined with the clever casting of Bassett, are not nearly enough to save this movie from being predictable, unrealistic and ultimately very uninspiring.

A romance between Fox and Bassett seems fake and rather forced. Perry just didn’t have the time to develop their love story and as a result it seemed incongruous. The same can be said about a scene featuring the trash-talking Madea. While the brief cameo is funny, it seems out of place and only serves as a way to promote the upcoming “Madea Goes to Jail” movie.

After coming off of the successful and absolutely dynamic “Why Did I Get Married?” audiences may feel that after meeting the Browns, their welcome was hardly worth the wait.

Grade: C+