Does Tyler Perry Do Enough "For Colored Girls"?

by Eric Kohn
November 4, 2010 3:38 AM
3 Comments
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His core audience will think so. I'm not a Perry fan, but watching his adaptation of the 1975 play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf" at the Ziegfeld last week, it was clear to me that as a director, Perry is virtually incapable of not preaching to the choir. Despite confusing claims that "For Colored Girls" represents an attempt to diverge from his base and make an "art film," the movie still features the same clumsy direction and stagey performances that turn all of his dramas into wildly uneven affairs. (At least in his comedies, the histrionics fit the expectations of the genre.) The screenplay makes awkward segues into the verse format of Ntozake Shange's original text, but the Perry devotees at the Ziegfeld didn't seem to mind. Perry makes soap opera dramas, and like that format, his work operates under the guise of something far more serious than what it is. He's a consummate showman more than a filmmaker...but, boy, does he know how to put on a good show.

On the way home from the "Colored Girls" screening, a close companion and I engaged in a lengthy debate about the value of the work. Does Perry's artificial style reflect a post-modern touch, whether or not his audience sees it that way? I say sometimes, and certainly in this case. And do the superficial production flaws of "For Colored Girls" matter less than its success at bringing a neglected Broadway hit to an audience that would otherwise never get a chance to see it? I say not a chance. It just makes you think about the potential of this material in the hands of better director. But that's just me; once the Perry fans have spoken, few other voices will be heard.

Here's the trailer, which has almost all the best parts, save for a few other scenes featuring a wrathful Whoopi Goldberg:

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3 Comments

  • yavette | December 14, 2010 5:54 AMReply

    Dear Tyler Perry
    I love all your movies keep up the good work, it would be really nice if you can put actress Jonelle Allen in your next movie. she is my favorite actress and she been playing in movies since the 1970's and 80's 90's and til this day I love for you to put her in your next film, keep on making more movies and I'm looking forward to seeing Jonelle

  • Chelle | November 8, 2010 1:36 AMReply

    I watched "For Colored Girls" this weekend and I thought Tyler Perry did an AMAZING job. The movie was AMAZING! All of the actresses and actors performed so well. I was very impressed.

    I went with 8 of my friends and we all thoroughly enjoyed this movie. There were people from all walks of life in the theater. When leaving the theater, all you could here were people raving about how they loved the movie and some actually wanted to see it again. It was heartfelt, breathtaking, well directed, greatly performed. I feel Tyler Perry did Ntozake Shange proud.

  • Melissa Pettigrew Jackson | November 6, 2010 3:18 AMReply

    I too am not a Perry fan but I will say he has been smart at entertaining.
    I had to see his latest film, For Colored Girls. I knew that it was an adaptation of another writer's work.
    Truthfully it wasn't a bad film. It was different from the comical Madea works that I rolled my eyes at when the trailers came out. I could, as usual, make predictions as the story went on and I was right each time. Also, the film still told and didn't show. I did appreciate the poetry woven in at appropriate times.

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