Meet the Browns | Film Review | Slant Magazine
Praise Jesus that Tyler Perry found Angela Bassett. In Meet the Browns, the actress brings her customary nuance to a stock role: a single. Feel-good film is formulaic but OK for teens+. Read Common Sense Media's Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns review, age rating, and parents guide. Tyler Perry's Mabel Simmons, aka Madea, is one of the most memorable Sofia Vergara appeared in Meet the Browns () and Madea Goes to Jail ().
This is a movie that runs through its three-act structure only to stop suddenly and introduce a superfluous fourth act in which a woman tortures a paraplegic with surprising ferocity.
Even worse, the film acknowledges the act as just one of those things people do. Not every Tyler Perry film features such blatant craziness some are even crazier thoughbut on one level or another they all display high measures of dangerous irresponsibility and casually dismiss as normal what most of us would call insane.
I find perverse enjoyment in this. I have a fondness for things that should not exist, and Tyler Perry as a highly successful movie mogul really should not exist. What I don't understand is why I'm so alone on this one. To me, Tyler Perry films should be shown at repertory movie houses filled with drunken people laughing their asses off by now.
As movie fans we can disagree on a wide variety of things, but the negative consensus on Tyler Perry is quite clear.
It's so widespread and axiomatic in fact, that it can only be a product of group-think ignorance. I don't even have to guess on this one. Many people I interact with regarding Tyler Perry eventually admit they've never seen any of his films. Here's something I find axiomatic: If you don't check something out firsthand, you're not in a position to opine its merits.
That goes double for Tyler Perry, whose work seems to have inspired a damning series of half truths which have turned into faulty generalizations which have turned into facts.
Tyler Perry makes religious movies -- Let's define a cultural line and draw it between Kirk Cameron's Fireproof yes, I've seen it and Forrest Gump I've seen this one too. Fireproof is a Christian film, while Forrest Gump is a secular film with a Christian character. Tyler Perry lay somewhere in between, more on the Forrest Gump side than you think.
I'll admit his first two films lay on the Fireproof side, however. Both feature Christian main characters who eschew reality in favor of specifically Christian didacticism in other words, fall in love but wait for marriage to have sex.
After that, however, Tyler Perry films no longer have this hang-up. Characters may say they're Christian but that's about all they do. You might even see them in church, but we saw Forrest Gump in church as well.
Religion plays a role in many movies because it's a part of our culture whether you're into it or not. That doesn't make them Christian movies. Starting with Daddy's Little Girls, in which we see the main romance consummated on the second date after an aborted date-rape on the first dateTyler Perry's no longer interested in preaching, and his films no longer feel like your reading Chick Tracts although, I have a special place in my heart for Chick Tracts, too.
Keep in mind that Tyler Perry's stupidest character, Mr. Brown, is also his most devout Christian. His flagship character, Madea, dismisses religion completely. Tyler Perry only makes films about black people -- First of all, so what? Second of all, no he doesn't. Yes, Tyler Perry films have largely black casts, and it's a good thing too because some of his actors are really great, and this is sadly one of the only avenues giving them opportunities.
If you want to see something really sad, watch great actresses like Alfre Woodard or Angela Bassett bring their A-game to Tyler Perry's C-scripts simply because no one else is hiring.
Tyler Perry's Madea and Meet The Browns Play Featuring Juanita Bynum
Hate Tyler Perry all you want, but it's undeniable that he gives a lot of people work that didn't exist before, and his popularity would not have been possible if Hollywood didn't spend all its energy courting sixteen year old white boys and ignoring everyone else.
But beyond that, Tyler Perry films are almost never about being black, which I think is the issue turning white movie fans away. In most cases, the characters are simply people rather than "black people. He often combines "black" and "woman" together to signify a type of feminine strength specific to African Americans, but that difference never manifests in any definable way.
As for the men, they're more beautiful and muscular than white guys, but that's about it. So they're not really "black people" films so much as Chick Flicks, made perversely entertaining due to Tyler Perry's shallow, antiquated and highly offensive views on women. If you want to see a film where a giant male protagonist chokes a tiny lady for the sake of comedy, Tyler Perry's got you covered. If you want an examination of what it means to be African American in society today, look somewhere else.
I recommend Crash or perhaps The Blind Side. Madea sucks -- First, some numbers. To date, Tyler Perry has released twelve films, only six of which feature Madea. Actually, none of the films so far can really be called Madea films as she plays a supporting role at best in each, excluding the most recent Madea's Big Happy Family, which puts her front and center likely to offset the artistic failure of For Colored Girls.
My point is, Madea is not nearly as omnipresent in Tyler Perry's canon as people assume. Equating him with her is erroneous. In fact, he's not been shy about telling interviewers how much he longs to kill her off. That's actually a huge drag because Madea is fucking awesome.Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns -- Trailer
If I had you this far, I risk losing you now most of all, but I made a decision long ago to never lie about what I think is funny, and I find Madea extremely funny.
Tyler Perry's a so-so actor and a horrible dramatist, but he excels at comedy. As Madea, he doesn't make intelligent jokes so much as just riff with a very consistent level of low to medium-level humor.
One vital part of the equation few people know about is Joe, Madea's brother and frequent comedy partner. Joe's also played by Tyler Perry, and he has a penchant for predictable things like fart humor and Viagra jokes but dips into a lot of strange incestuous jokes as well. When the two work together Tyler Perry captures a kind of magic. I'll put it this way, and this is by far the most blasphemous thing I'll say in this article, but when a movie switches to Madea and Joe, you know you're in for something special the same way you just know you're in good hands whenever a Marx Brothers movie gives you any two brothers in the same scene.
There's a purposeful absurdity to Madea that most people don't pick up on because absurdity comes off badly when it's not on your side, and I don't mean that in some flip, backhanded way.
It's just incredibly easy to hate Madea if you've already decided to hate Madea because her character is illogical and stupid, and Tyler Perry forces her into plots that are both self-important and hyper-dramatic. The key to Tyler Perry is learning to laugh at the drama so you can laugh with Madea.
From this perspective, it's understand why Tyler Perry hates Madea so much. She often undercuts the severity of his messages, and he's yet to find a way around it. He wants to move on to bigger and better things, but he's tied to her despite all his success. Madea doesn't go to church, she doesn't put up with any drama, and she refuses submission, so when he puts her in contrast with his typically weak female protagonists, it tends to emphasize how ridiculously stupid they are.
In other words, if you hate Tyler Perry, Madea is oddly your best pal in the world. You can see this in non-Madea movies, where all bets are off and whiplash tonal shifts are not divided by scene.
Meet the Browns () - IMDb
On the other hand, when Tyler Perry forgoes Madea and actually makes a decent enough movie to call mediocre, like Daddy's Little Girls or The Family that Preys, no one wins. These movies probably have Tyler Perry's best scripts, but once my book is finished I doubt I'll even touch them with a ten-foot clown pole. So to sum up: Tyler Perry is not synonymous with Madea. But I kind of wish he were. Tyler Perry is a shitty director -- Actually Tyler Perry is a pretty decent director.
Given his reputation, you'd expect his films to exhibit a sub-Kevin Smith level of filmmaking proficiency, but that's not the case at all. His first directorial effort, Madea's Family Reunion, suffers from a weird soap opera glow and Meet the Browns has some really awful editing choices, but the rest of his films look relatively normal.
He even participates in really long shots requiring a great amount of blocking and camera movements. All I'm saying is that he's become a fine journeyman director. He could totally direct the next Fockers movie and no one would know it was him. He's actually really good at casting, too. The number one thing Tyler Perry succeeds at is inspiring hate toward his villains, and half of that is picking the right actor. Even when dealing with real Hollywood stars, he tends to use them accurately.
Daddy's Little Girls, for instance, wouldn't work at all if not for Idris Elba. I'm not sure anyone else could have played that part with the same dignity while also getting across exactly what that character is supposed to communicate. Put it this way: Perry had a hard time getting the first Madea movie made Perry wrote, directed, and starred in several plays featuring Madea in the early s that were huge hits on the urban theater circuit, including Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea's Family Reunion, and Madea's Class Reunion.
But when he tried to get Diary of a Mad Black Woman made into a film, he ran into resistance. Like Roger Ebert, who complained about Diary of a Mad Black Woman that she "brings the movie to a halt every time she appears. A Madea movie is a fun formula Most of the Tyler Perry films starring the matriarch have a certain formula. Although Madea's name is usually in the title, she is not in every scene.
There is also usually some sort of message behind the comedy. A Madea Halloweenthe film is ostensibly a comedic horror film but is really about Madea's nephew being too weak with his teenage daughter, and Madea straightening things out. Earlier romantic movies like Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea's Family Reunion are about good women being treated terribly by abusive husbandswith Madea making things right. Perry said in a interview"If you look at everything I do — even in 'Boo,'" he reveals, "there's a message, and it's always 'faith, family, forgiveness.
I can get a message to the very people I grew up with, the millions who love what I do. I can get a message to them when others can't. I can wrap it in a comedy, I can wrap it in a drama. So it becomes entertaining but still gives hope. Not only do the plays have a musical aspect the films don't, but the Madea in the theater was even more outrageous, especially in the early days, with lots more gun use and pot smoking.
Meet the Browns () - IMDb
He eventually toned down the character a little because of children watching. Shemar Moore was a relative unknown when he was cast as the love interest in Diary of a Mad Black Woman Shortly after that role, he got a big part in the then-new series Criminal Mindswhere he stayed for over a decade.
Viola Davis was also in Madea Goes to Jail. But the costume is very hot, and it hurts to talk in a higher-pitched voice for hours at a time.
Meet the Browns
When the writer asked why, he said, "Oh my God. Being in Georgia in a fat suit, and wig and makeup, in the middle of summer? The physicality of it is no fun. As the movies grew in popularity, its audience expanded to the white and Latino community, and the movies also had some non-black characters. Tyler Perry says they miss the point of the themes in the Madea films. But how can you miss the message of forgiveness? How can you miss the messages of empowerment? Perry was wanting to move onto other things from Madea, but there is a gag in Top Five in which Chris Rock's character is losing out at the box office to the fictional Boo!
Perry and Lionsgate decided to make a real movie with that very theme — and title. It was a huge hit in