Back Shelf Beauties
Diary of a Mad Black Woman
It sounds like a Lifetime Movie of the Week produced by Oprah, and complete with a heroine overcoming adversity to conquer the man who done her wrong. However, it's funny enough to overcome the cliches, and sweet enough to make those cliches feel warm and fuzzy.
Kimberly Elise stars as Helen - the dedicated wife of a successful Atlanta attorney, Charles (Steven Harris). They live a life of opulence, complete with fancy cars and a huge mansion, but behind the outward appearance of happiness lies a troubled marriage. On their 18th anniversary, Charles reveals some horrible information to Helen and kicks her out of the house with nowhere to go. Devastated, Helen turns to her estranged family, including grandmother Madea (Tyler Perry), for help.
Can Helen rebuild her life and learn to love again?
Diary of a Mad Black Woman is a movie trying very hard to cover all of the bases, but does so well enough to make you want to buy a ticket. Writer Perry and director Darren Grant start off with those melodramatic moments of heartbreak at the beginning (which gets the entire crowd revved up), segue into madcap comedy (some of the movie's best moments), move onto a story of redemption (happy times for the audience), then wrap it all up with a life lesson (one to make you think). It seems like a great deal of information and a mixed tone, but it worked for me.
Grant keeps the story flowing logically enough to make the comedy fit that moment of the movie, the love story that part of the movie and so forth. My only objection to the structure is Perry's (and Grant's) insistence on giving a great deal of screen time to Charles' story. Eventually, his story gets to the point where it is important, but we don't need so much information. Perry and Grant pile on to make us remember Charles is a complete jerk, but we already know that. While these scenes give Harris an opportunity to wow us with his ability to play a bad bad man, they extend the movie unnecessarily.
The actors in Diary of a Mad Black Woman make the film a comfortable night of entertainment. While Elise does go a bit over the top in some scenes, she is wonderful in the movie's love story with Shemar Moore. The two share a warm, easygoing, comfortable chemistry that draws in the helpless romantic in us. Perry as Madea brings strong comic relief, but over does it when playing Joe - a character overly dedicated to potty humor that doesn't fit in this movie.
Diary of a Mad Black Woman is a good film, especially when it dares to be sweet and romantic, even though it has too much potty humor.
2 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)
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