Iris Eben

“Good Deeds” Gone Wrong

“Good Deeds” Gone Wrong

“Good Deeds” Gone Wrong

Enduring nearly two hours of overacted archetypes and uninspiring screenwriting is too high a price to pay for seeing “Good Deeds.” The story is an F-rate chick film at its best and simply boring at its worst. As a director, screenwriter, and leading actor for this film—Tyler Perry fails on all accounts.

Although Perry has become a self-made multi-millionaire by catering to the black demographic often ignored by Hollywood, his pandering to an assumed general black condition does not make for a great storytelling. His films, like “Madea’s Family Reunion” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” have just as many critics as fans.

Black scholars like Henry Louis Gates and premier black filmmaker Spike Lee have condemned his resurrection of the mami stereotype and airing of as Bill Cosby likes to call it, African Americans’ “dirty laundry.” Lines like “That’s not how you stop a black woman in her tracks—Hey bitch,” said by Walter Deeds (Brian White) serves as another incident of abusive chauvinism that has comes to characterize the media image of black men.

As with many of his movies, the film underestimates the intelligence of the audience by including overt forced cues, as if there were “laugh” and “cry” placards being held onscreen. Completely unnecessary for a film that’s as complex a children’s bedtime story book.

The story is simple.

CEO Wesley Deeds (Tyler Perry), the heir of a software entrepreneur is a stiff, no non-sense corporate drone who never seems to get his Ralph Lauren boxers in a bunch. His life is as predictable as the coding of the technology he sells. Running the company with him, is brother Walter Deeds (Brian White), a woman hating, privileged and alcoholic asshole whose overindulgent ways constantly get him in trouble.

And who is responsible for such captivating children? Wilimena (Phylicia Rashad). An overbearing mother who favors the Wesley over the younger brat and hopes he will follow in his father footsteps. That is until Lindsey Wakefield (Thandie Newton), a sassy, homeless janitor captures the attention of the engaged Wesley. Can you guess what will happen next? Boy meets girl. Girl liberates boy. Boy and girl fight. Boy and girl make-up and live happily ever after.

Without a silver-gray weave, a lumpy bodysuit and a gravely granny voice, Tyler Perry is unable to command the film. This character required Perry to become vulnerable, especially being a love interest who is engaged in some pretty intimate scenes. But it’s not believable. Instead of appearing as an aloof, sophisticated robot mama’s boy, Perry more often seems awkward and constipated. The theme of a changed man who is liberated by a more adventurous woman falls flat because of this. The onscreen chemistry between Perry  and Newton resembles that of a steaming droplet, rather than a blowtorch.

However, Thandi Newton, who delivered compelling performances in “For Colored Girls” and Oscar-nominated “Crash,” delivers yet another hold-your breath performance as Lindsey. Unlike the rest of the cast that add zero depth to the characters they play, which is greatly needed due to the cliché ridden script, Lindsey gives us both the hardened will of a broken woman and the softness of a mother just trying to provide for her daughter . The other actors may have well have been extras.

The preachy message of going for your dreams and treating women right bores. The cityscape switch between Atlanta and San Francisco when the characters haven’t even moved their cars confuses. And the repeated shower contemplations annoys. The film is more of an amateur production than that of a multi-million dollar studio.

There are some, cough, Oscar-worthy moments in the film. Ariel (Jordenn Thompson), Lindsey’s daughter, steals every scene with her gap toothed smile and more emotion than half the adult actors. In a cliché rebirth sequence, we get to see Perry do a Madea jig to Tupac’s “How do you want it?” The luscious posterior of Wesley’s fiancée Natalie (Gabrielle Union) makes a cameo more than once. But unfortunately, a cute kid, bootylicious ass and MJ moves can’t save the movie.

 

 

image by:  Tim Williams

 

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