Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

by Marjorie Baumgarten


Like Stella a few years ago, this new movie tells the story of how yet another black woman, Helen McCarter (Kimberly Elise), jumps back in the game and gets her groove back. The characters' journeys are somewhat different, as are the two films' storytelling techniques. However, both movies' target audience is the same: urban black women who yearn for a good sudser and a laugh. Diary of a Mad Black Woman has enough suds to blow soap bubbles around anything in its path, but the movie's melodramatic strife is leavened with broad slapstick strokes, which creates a bizarrely uneven tone that requires viewers to shift tears of empathy to tears of laughter -- often within the same scene. Despite the film's hoary cliches and the bad drag of actor/screenwriter Tyler Perry -- who plays three roles in the film, one of whom is the outsized Madea, a Martin Lawrence Big Momma type who packs a pistol -- viewers seem to respond to Helen's ups and downs with vocal squeals of enthusiasm and disbelief. "Oh no, she didn't!" we all seem to squawk in unison at one or another of Helen's doormat decisions, thus ratifying our communal experience.


Even though audiences might have a fun time while viewing Diary of a Mad Black Woman, that does not make it a good movie - just one that shows potential for ongoing camp value. On the eve of their 20th wedding anniversary, Helen's husband, Charles (Harris, of The Practice), literally throws her out of their Atlanta mansion in favor of a younger, more fertile wife. At a loss, Helen returns to her grandmother Madea's home, which Madea also shares with her randy brother (also played by Perry). Madea shows Helen how to claim what is hers and then chainsaw the rest to bits, and eventually Helen finds new love with soulful Orlando (Moore). Yet more twists and turns are in store when Charles is shot and paralyzed by an angry client, a situation that leads Helen through more character shifts than Sybil. Cruelty, church redemption, miraculous healings of limbs and junkie relatives -- all have their moments onscreen. Accomplished video director Grant makes a clumsy debut as a feature director, bringing little sense of oversight to the proceedings. Elise effectively manages this role that requires her to shift on a dime from happy to sad, and the film provides a vivid showcase for Perry's instinctive talents. The movie does no service to veteran Tyson, though, and if one desires to see her on the screen again they're better off advised to go see Because of Winn-Dixie, which is also in current release. Diary of a Mad Black Woman is a shambling affair, but its mixture of suds and slapstick make it a slippery contender.





Publication date: 03/03/05

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • OK, Hold Your Nose
  • OK, Hold Your Nose

    Everything you need to know before Election Day
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Base of Support
  • Base of Support

    Polling local leaders and opinion-makers about presidential politics
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • The Messenger
  • The Messenger

    Local leaders weigh in on how Donald Trump's campaign has impacted racism in America
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion

Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Marjorie Baumgarten

  • Improv Material
  • Improv Material

    Don't Think Twice is a brutally honest take on show biz
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • Texas Heat
  • Texas Heat

    Hell or High Water is the crime drama you've been waiting all summer for
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


trail mix


Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Spark of Change
  • Spark of Change

    Why Chris Hedges thinks we're ripe for revolution
    • Mar 4, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation