Perry turns page with play adaptation

Dear Diary,

How would you feel if for 18 years you dedicated your life to a man who did nothing but take you for granted? If in the morning when you greeted him with a kiss, he greeted you with his behind to kiss. How would you feel if you dressed up to bring your husband lunch at his job and as you are heading toward the office, you saw him coming out with another woman? How would you feel?


A mad black woman

In the movie “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” Helen McCarter (Kimberly Elise) is just that-mad. After being married to her successful, rich husband for 18 years, she gets some devastating news: Her husband, Charles, wants a divorce. He tells her that he has other things to attend to such as his mistress and their illegitimate children.

Kicked out of her home and onto the streets of Atlanta, Helen is left with nothing but a few boxes of clothing and a U-Haul driver (Shemar Moore) to take her wherever she needs to go, arranged by her husband. There is just one problem: with no money, Helen has nowhere to go. During her marriage, she was alienated from virtually all of her family members per her husband’s wishes. With no other options, she was forced to head to Madea’s place.

Madea (Tyler Perry) turns the movie from a “Waiting to Exhale” emotional drama to a hold-your-stomach comedy. When Madea, who plays a grandmother figure, sees Helen’s life has made a turn for the worse, she quickly reacts.

Madea has a recipe for every problem: one handbag, a pack of cigarettes, a lighter and a loaded gun, added together equals problem solved.

“Diary of a Mad Black Woman” is a gospel stage play gone film. Perry is nationally known for his gospel stage plays, which include “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “Madea’s Class Reunion” and “I Know I’ve Been Changed.” Fans of Perry’s stage productions were anxious to see the talented producer, writer and director’s feature film.

“Finally something for the saints” whispered an audience member.

This movie, which had its share of comedy and drama, did not shy away from its Christian origin. Just a year ago, the name “Jesus” became less taboo in film with the help of “The Passion of the Christ” and now gospel plays have emerged from the stage to the big screen such as T.D. Jakes’ “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” leaving many to wonder if Hollywood is expanding its horizons.

Even if it is not, Perry knows how to work his magic with or without the help of Hollywood. Instead of leasing the entire set for the movie, Perry used his home as part of the set.

However, producing is only one of Perry’s skills. He plays multiple roles in the movie with the most entertaining being Madea.

Elise’s portrayal of a “bitter black woman” was dynamic. At one moment, you pitied her for being so naïve, at the other moment you applauded her for being brave and then again, you cautioned her for being so vindictive.

As for Moore, who is known for being the “pretty boy,” “the player” and the man screaming “Soooulll Train,” he gave being “the good man that most women don’t want” a shot. However, a change in character, cannot stop Moore from being the smooth talking man women fall for.

Other actors included Cicely Tyson and newcomer Lisa Marcos who made the film a decent Friday night investment.

If anything bad were to be said about the film, it would be the film’s highs and lows of drama and comedy. The film was close to being off balance. There were times it felt as if the movie was being controlled by a lamp switch. The “On” switch was for the comedy (laugh hysterically) and the “Off” switch was for drama (stop laughing, this part is serious). The constant back and forth was on the verge of being annoying.

In the end, a few valuable lessons are learned about betrayal, revenge, forgiveness and love.

Whether Hollywood is ready, Perry has proved he knows how to make the pages of a mad woman’s diary into a movie worth seeing.

Grade B +

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