Saturday, October 30, 2010

For Colored Girls

A good movie either needs the big screen, the big budget, or big stars to be worthy of an audience as large as Tyler Perry's. Tyler Perry's “For Colored Girls” is one of those movies that follows interconnecting stories of people going through struggles. The domestically abused, the sexually assaulted, accidentally impregnated, the baron, and hopelessly devoted. Think “Valentines Day” with more raping.

The movie is not unlike that of a, or, well, six lifetime films in that it's about women who don't need men. Or have been scorned by men. Or had their children killed by men due to PTSD. Okay, maybe that last one hasn't happened on lifetime yet, but I'm sure Army Wives has it cooking for a season finale.

Tyler Perry does not direct this film well. For example in this film there's a scene where a recently impregnated 16 year old girl walks down the world’s most clichéd back alley in the history of cinema. There's some skeevy looking folks playing dominoes, some other folks drinking booze, an angry dog barking, and yes, one crazy woman mumbling to herself. Bingo! I got Bingo!

This movie doesn't need the big screen. Perry does not take advantage of his stage, and there are no scenes, or shots, or effects that wouldn't be just as powerful on my TV screen at home. The movie is directed on a level similar to that of middling West Wing episodes. The camera doesn't do anything particularly interesting, things happening in the background look staged, and scenes that are supposed to be powerful or subtle drew laughs or lewd comments from the crowd, which, by the way, was the most entertaining part of the film. It knows how to elicit a reaction from its intended audience, though often at the expense, or in spite of, the story telling.

The writing has it's good moments, and the audience laughed in interesting places, and the barbs from Janet Jackson to her boyfriend with a fabulous secret are delightful in their sophomoric nature. As an adaptation, though, the bits Perry has written and the parts lifted directly from the play arrive at perpendicular angles to one another. Some are good. Anything that comes out of Loretta Devine's mouth is gold. But these little poetic monologues grow in occurrence toward the second part of the film, and I grew tired of the folks to talking in radio head style lyric every four minutes.

The acting is good, Whoopi Goldberg gives the best pissed off I can remember, Phylicia Rashad is able to captivate an audience without doing a whole heck of a lot, and Thandie Newton does her best Rosie Perez impression.

Now, this movie is called for colored girls, but all issues of race and color are literally left to the last 20 minutes of the film, where the words colored, black, and nigger find their way into the monologues. Nothing in the film features issues specific to the African American community, and if these characters had been white, pink, or purple, nothing would have changed but the color correction. So this sudden inclusion proved baffling.

Maybe it's because I'm not colored, or a woman, but this movie is not worth the price of admission. I'm certain issues of haphazardly handled domestic violence, laugh inducing rape, oddly implied incestual abuse, awkward directing, a drawn out ending and clichéd lets all hug as we ponder our lives without men scene, transcends all colors and genders but one. Green. Save yours. “For Colored Girls” would make a wonderful first season of a cable (or TBS) drama, but as a movie in a theater? It is not worth The Price of Admission.

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