For Colored Girls Early Reviews are Mixed

by Anne Thompson
October 23, 2010 3:43 AM
19 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood
If you're serious about an Oscar campaign, you don't hesitate to show your movie. I have yet to see For Colored Girls, which is why Lionsgate's "award season push" for Tyler Perry's reach toward mainstream credibility reeks of a distributor making nice to a favorite house director. Nothing new, and totally understandable--Perry has made Lionsgate a ton of money.

The trades have weighed in now, and the results are not strong enough to indicate an awards trajectory for this film:

The Hollywood Reporter:

For once, Tyler Perry doesn't put his name above the title, but perhaps he should with "For Colored Girls" to distinguish this train wreck of a movie from the stunning theater piece of 36 years ago by Ntozake Shange.

Variety:


It's not "Precious," but "For Colored Girls" marks an advance for Tyler Perry, as well as a big step back. In adapting Ntozake Shange's Tony-nominated play -- a cycle of poetic monologues about abuse, abortion and other issues facing modern black women, rather than a traditional narrative -- the do-it-all auteur demonstrates an ambition beyond any of his previous work. And yet the result falls squarely in familiar territory, better acted and better lit, perhaps, but more inauthentically melodramatic than ever. Perry's faithful should ensure a healthy berth for his 10th feature, while cast and pedigree will give "Girls" longer legs.

What's left? Lionsgate will work hard to get one of the movie's ensemble of stars, Janet Jackson, a nomination for best song, “Nothing” which she co-wrote for Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?

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More: Independents, Reviews, Lionsgate/Roadside

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19 Comments

  • Pry'Jon Colbert | November 8, 2010 4:31 AMReply

    When it all boils down, this is clearly a RACE issue. Give The man his props. He realy deserves it. With your negative opinions or not, he is STILL making millions regardless. Step into the 21st century people.

  • Tanya | October 25, 2010 10:24 AMReply

    @Scotland10...thanks for the info. I've noticed a resurgence of the stage play in local theatres over the last few months, but I wasn't aware the version you referenced was available. I'd love to have a prescreening party with the original screen play before we view the TP film version.

    Our TP viewing party will consist of 3 generations of women (yes AA), some seeing this in 'any' art form for the first time. I'm looking forward to the discussion at dinner afterward. I'm sure we will have differing perceptions of the characters and their circumstances. The women depicted in the original stage play were a product of the times they lived in. The social landscape of this country has changed considerably since that time, but remained the same in some segments. I look forward to seeing how TP deals with that on film. Also, it will be interesting to hear from the younger generations where they find themselves in this film or if they relate at all. We'll see...

    @ Brian...OMG, I hadn't heard a whisper about that exchange although, I must admit it sounds like something the 'old' Toni might have said, lol. B.T.W, I am just barely plus sized, but most of my friends and family are slim. We are all college educated and most with post graduate degrees.

    @ Jaim..."Madea's Family Reunion"

  • Jaim | October 25, 2010 7:02 AMReply

    I often don't like his films mainly because there always seems to be a strange balance of church forgiveness and immoral acts. Case in point, in one film of his, can't remember the name, but Lynn Whitfield's character was a mother who prostituted her daughters in their youth and then tried to force the one daughter to stay married to a man(played by Blair Underwood) who physically abused her. But then at the end of the film, once they're at some family church event, the daughters forgive the mother and all seems forgotten.

    Now, in light of Perry's recent confessions of being sexually abused as a child I can understand why his viewpoint on these matters seems a bit out of balance. He even admitted on Oprah that he was able to forgive his father(who physically abused him, the sexual abuse was done by other adults) and actually bought him a mansion to live in and pays the mortgage. He says he doesn't see his father or spend time with him, but he still takes care of him. Basically, he forgives him but that doesn't mean he wants a relationship. Okay, that's his right to handle his past in this manner, but I think he should show this side of things in his films more often. There should be a character that forgives but still keeps this toxic person out of their life. I guess I just felt like his films made some topics seem easy to get over whereas his real life confessions demonstrate the deeper complexity that abuse manifests into a person's life. I would like to see that kind of real soul-searching in his movies.

    As for the new film, it looks different than his usual formula and hopefully will be a breath of fresh air. I think he has amazing potential as a serious director if he could go beyond the standard formula of, any problem is solved by Church and people can easily forgive anything. That's a great hope for humanity but not everyone can forgive certain situations and this side of life should be seen as well.

  • SCOTLAND10 | October 25, 2010 4:29 AMReply

    The original production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf is out on DVD and is available for purchase from www.kultur.com, Item# D2607 SRP: $24.99

    Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf Staring Alfre Woodard, Lynn Whitfield and Ntozake Shange is available now on DVD.

    Oscar Nominee and Emmy-Winner Alfre Woodard and Lynn Whitfield celebrate in song, poetry and dance their strength, beauty and enormous capacity for love. This Explosive, vivid “choreopoem” illuminates the story and struggle of black women in America. The seven women comprising the cast, including author Ntozake Shange , share with the viewer their exuberance for life and their ability to begin again, no matter how ridiculous the odds

    “A play that should be seen, savored and treasured” The New York Times

  • MM | October 25, 2010 3:43 AMReply

    @ sergio, are you out of your mind? "Plus size?" "Desperate?". I happen to enjoy his movies very much, I am not crazy about the plays. I happen to be college educated, one degree is in Theatre, the other is in Nursing. And my parents and grandparents are all college educated, most with post baccaulaureate degrees. Oh, yeah, I'm black and I'm plus-size but I have a husband who enjoys the movies because we can relate. We are either reminded of someone we know or in our own families. It's comedy, sometimes drama, usually with a moral or purpose. His movies are no more ridiculous than some of the slapstick crap that passes for a "good" movie on the other end of the spectrum. I happen to think that movies like "The Proposal" and "The Hangover" are hilarious but then again I judge the movies on their actual content and not by the "type" or attributes of their audience members. I also happened to read the original play in college, so I'm interested in his adaptation of this classic. So, don't demean a particular "subset" of movies or their creator just because you don't understand them or cannot relate to them. If you don't like them, fine, but don't try to "belittle" Tyler Perry or those of us who do, by calling us "low class" or imply that you know the real socioeconomic makeup of his audience. I have many "elite" black friends that enjoy his movies (I guess I would be one of them since I grew up in private schools and have a college education). Have you ever just thought about the fact that black people enjoy seeing other black people onscreen that look like them and not some Hollywood, glamorized version of beauty. Most "plus-size" black women are tired of being told we're not beautiful because we're not a size 2. Think about that!!

  • Brian | October 25, 2010 3:12 AMReply

    I must confess to some serious cultural deprivation: I still haven't seen any Tyler Perry movies. And he's the most successful black filmmaker in history so, as a film buff, I really should. I taped one off Showtime (THE FAMILY THAT PREYS TOGETHER) but haven't watched it yet. I really should see FOR COLORED GIRLS. I've never seen the play, but I remember the controversy when it came out. (I remember hearing that Toni Morrison denounced the play's author, Ntozake Shange, to her face at some point. "You're a sick woman" is the quote I remember. But this is just hearsay. I can't prove this exchange ever happened. I'm only citing it to recall the debate around that play at the time.)

    And, for the record, the friends of mine who are fans of Tyler Perry movies are all plus-sized black women, some college-educated, some not.

    But this is the most interesting debate I've seen on this site in some time. I appreciate reading the heartfelt defenses of Perry and his movies and will take those into consideration when I finally see one of his movies.

  • Sergio | October 25, 2010 1:29 AMReply

    "Uninformed" in what way???? And you're talking to someone who has seen all his films and I see EVERYTHING

  • Tanya | October 24, 2010 12:30 PMReply

    @ sergio...we "more elite types" find you funny (and very uninformed).

    @ the urban prince. I disagree with your statement that blacks in certain positions would not watch the film. Regardless to a person's position, we all hale from 'somewhere', and most are more strongly connected to our roots that our current position would imply. I do agree, however, with your statement about cultural films polarizing viewers. It's all in understanding the delicacys of the culture. Case and point...tell a Brit you just met a man named 'Randy' and watch the response,lol.

  • skelly | October 24, 2010 9:14 AMReply

    @ Ashlyn Rae - thank you.

    my sentiments so tired of people calling legitimate criticism ʻhateʻ.

    we have got to do better -

  • the_urban_prince | October 24, 2010 7:33 AMReply

    their is SOME class divide but i honestly think it's cultural like tanya pointed out. plus added to the fact black elites probably would never watch the film anyway. and well the white movie going public are completely oblivious. besides films that are usually cultural, and race specific has ALWAYS been polarizing.

  • Ashlyn Rae | October 24, 2010 6:20 AMReply

    Yes Mary, Tyler Perry is rich. So what? Should we respect him for that? He has made 43 movies which all score between 2.59 and 4.20/10 (based on 10.000s of votes of people who have seen his movies). Tyler Perry has become another Uwe Boll, consistently and shamelessly making bad movies just for profit. That's why people hate him. It has noting to do with jealousy.

  • Sergio | October 24, 2010 5:56 AMReply

    That's very true and also keep in mind, and this is something that Perry's fans don't want to discuss or would rather ignore, is that there's very clearly a "class" difference thing going on here too as well. His films play strongest with lower middle class/working class, non-college graduate audiences. His biggest detractors are (how shall we say?) the more "elite" types.

  • mary | October 24, 2010 5:38 AMReply

    someone is JEALOUS.
    There's a new Game intown and your not allowed

  • Mary | October 24, 2010 5:36 AMReply

    The Tyler Perry Hate Campaign is starting early I see
    Who cares about Hollywood-Awards (oscars)? The man has his own Studio, a butt load of money. Whatever you or anyone else says about he's Movies (most) still open up number one
    Some people are so Jealous Get over it, a new Sheriff is in town, this is not your world anymore. LOLOLOLOL

  • conceptted | October 24, 2010 4:06 AMReply

    TO: SERGI0
    Tyler movie are chick flicks, men don't go to chick flick in general.

    Between 3 and 4 millions black women went to TP last movie to generated almost 30 million, that a lot of black women on the plus size and desperate for a man.

  • Sergio | October 24, 2010 3:53 AMReply

    P.S. In reagrds to my previous statelent above I still liked For Colored Girls but I will admit that I liked that Tony Scott Denzel Washington film Unstoppable even more. A real guy's guy's movie, 100 minutes of cinematic ecstasy for men (like The Expenadables)

  • Sergio | October 24, 2010 3:49 AMReply

    I've got to say it, but Perry has a devoted loyal hardcore audience which are mainly church going black women (usually on the "plus" size) desperate for a man. You rarely see men in the audience for a Perry movie and those few who are there were dragged there by their wives or girlfriends.

  • Tanya | October 24, 2010 1:56 AMReply

    @Ashlyn Rae...who hates Tyler Perry? and who is doing the rating? I love his movies and plays, as do most of my friends. ( I have another group of friends who just don't get it when it comes to his films. I try to explain, but it just looses something in the translation.)

    Mr Perry's movies characterize a particular ethnic culture, so I can see where those unfamiliar might not understand the nuiances of his humor (or dramatic renditions). However, it does not excuse bad behavior...the Uwe Boll comment was just poor taste. But the next time you choose to be rude, at least know the facts...UB's movies flop at the box office, don't even rate "straight to DVD' status, and only survive due to a German tax law that protects it's investors. As for TP, well, the box office receipts say that many of us LOVE him, so I guess you're wrong again. I am planning a viewing party with my friends followed by dinner and discussion. So far 25 have Rsvp'd and we're still 2 weeks away. I predict another TP hit!

  • Sergio | October 23, 2010 9:39 AMReply

    Well I liked it and this is coming from soneone who is definitely NOT a Tyler Perry fan and no one is more shocked than me...

    http://www.shadowandact.com/?p=33117

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