You know, I'm starting to see a pattern with these Tyler Perry films. I see these generic themed characters, the catch-alls, that always seem so darned familiar. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the majority of the films he makes are almost the same film with a different name, actors, and a new theme to plug into the same ol' formula. There's the lovable guy who, despite appearances and first impressions, could be the best thing in the world for a traumatized woman. The traumatized woman, herself, who can't see what's in front of her. The random junkie, drunkard, whore, or other miscreant who was once a friend to one of the main characters, who is seen as a charity case now. That one guy in the fat woman suit.
Perhaps watching the newest Perry films first and going back through his catalog has made me take notice of the recycled characters and ideas. Perhaps I'm just being cynical when I watch the films because they're love it or hate it affairs. I dunno. I do know that with 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman,' I got to see the ultimate Tyler Perry film. I say that, not because it's amazing- in fact, it's pretty far from it. 'Diary' contains almost every single cliche character, line, theme, location, and sequence. It's like all the other films are made, and at least twenty minutes of this film, in some fashion, are sprinkled through it, like it were some kind of ingredient.
So, from what I've read, 'Diary' is one of Perry's more popular/famous films. It got a DVD re-release in 2007, a double dip double disc edition in an attempt to double profits. It comes from a popular stage play, so it had a built-in audience, which can probably be said about every Perry film. It's also one of the worst films I've seen from the man, and yes, I'll blame him, even if he didn't direct the film adaptation (shocking as that may be, as Darren Grant gets that credit). I really don't get why Perry isn't in the chair, considering how miniscule and pathetic Grant's resume is, but as his first screen adaptation, perhaps he wasn't quite ready for the fifty credits he gets per film now.
The morality tale that is 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman' isn't so much served warm as it is crammed down our respective gullets. Helen (Kimberly Elise) doesn't quite know that her marriage is on the rocks. I mean, there seem to be signs, but her husband Charles (Steve Harris) is pretty darned good at deflecting the issue on his way to going out impregnating other women in secret. So, when Charles decides to go legit, he does so by kicking Helen out of their shared mansion, and brings home his baby mama Brenda (Lisa Marcos) to keep the bed warm. With nowhere to go, Helen turns to her grandmother Madea (Perry), who, of course, lands the two in court, faced with a number of misdemeanors and felonies.
The in-family lawyer Brian (Perry part two) can help the ladies, but he also has his problems at home, as his wife (Tamara Taylor) has a worse drug problem than the 1990's Dallas Cowboys. Of course his wife is longtime friends with Helen...longtime in that the two haven't seen each other in decades, so it's a startling reality check for the woman who had it all and lost it. But never fear, Helen fans, as she has a secret admirer in Orlando (Shemar Moore), a guy who apparently loves to be mistreated.
If any readers haven't gotten the gist by now, I wasn't a fan of 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman.' It's actually a shame, as this is one of the few times where I enjoyed the Madea character, and found myself laughing out loud at her shenanigans. Every other character is a giant pain in the ass, all a bunch of whiny drama queens, or perfect saints, who are pains in the ass because they're so damned sparkly and wonderful.
I'd like to know, seriously, how any woman who has been married for 18 years, who hasn't been intimate with her man for over a full year, who doesn't even realize he has a family unit on the side, thinks she has a good marriage. From the very start of the film, I lost any sympathy for Helen, because you instantly know she's that self-absorbed. We know she doesn't work, also, so she's just living the high life, oblivious to everything, other than the occasional whooping bestowed upon her by her man. So, naturally, we get to hate Charles, too, because he's an abusive dick. Orlando? Why should we care about Orlando? I mean, the city is nice, but the character is so one dimensional it's amazing he didn't turn out to be a fiction of Helen's imagination, like her very own Tyler Durden, only one she could date. And he's such a gentleman, he wants to woo and romance and wax poetic. He's almost like a chastity ring brought to life, and given a horrible haircut.
In all of Perry's films, there's no reason to ever care about Brian, so that's out the window, and his wife overacts her tweaker nature. And has all her teeth. But anyway...
Tyler Perry is a talented man. I will not argue otherwise. He's sometimes incredibly funny, too. But this flick is about as painful as having a Randy Johnson fastball nail you right in the groin as you were standing in line to use a stadium restroom. It's overly cruel to emphasize the forgiveness and revenge aspects, overly dramatic, poorly acted, and full of completely inhuman dialogue. People don't talk like this. I'm sorry. Perry improved on his character interactions in later films, and he also got wise so as to not recast that Shemar Moore guy again. I couldn't tell if he was supposed to be a gangster for God, a Shar pei with cornrows, or Jesus reincarnated. Fans, feel free to hate me for this one. I cannot, in any way, find any redeeming qualities in this film, other than the great (but underutilized) Madea writing.
So, is it not fitting that a tonally uneven film receives an equally random, uneven transfer? 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman' may get mad at me for saying this, but I was not all that impressed with the 1080p encode found here. The biggest, most obvious drawback is dirt. This film is from 2005, not 1970. It's not quite Grindhouse level bad, but it's constant, and these aren't tiny blips I'm talking about. They're as big as Madea's adam's apple. Throw in some noise, dirty whites, and grain that can overwhelm a few lighter scenes, and the picture has a lot fighting against it.
But wait, there's more! 'Mad Black Woman' has random softness, occasionally splotchy skin tones, and a few shaky sequences that pull you right out of the film, as you watch the frame of the picture wondering if there was an earthquake in Atlanta. Edges, oh edges, they're sometimes exaggerated like a Madea tall tale. Colors, they can be bold when they want to be, but they can be about as weak as the "generic important junkie character" found in most of these films, too. It's a shame, too, as the film does have its moments, with good pop and depth of picture. I don't know what to say. I put no blame here on Lionsgate. I think the material they're working off of is too young to need a restoration, so for a while, we'll just have to make due.
Consider me taken aback. I didn't go into 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman' expecting all that much in the audio department. The DTS-HD Master Audio track for this film will certainly grab your attention. The opening of the film is one of those highest of the highs, lowest of the lows situations, as the opening narration is strong and super crisp, on top of the rears that are blown out and ridiculous, ultimately countering all the good the scene had going for it. Dialogue is front and center, but that isn't to say rears don't get their share of activity, as random cars localize, as do some light sound here and there, on top of obvious soundtrack elements. Gunfire, especially the first bang, is actually pretty impressive. I did find the exaggerated bass in door slams to be somewhat ridiculous, but some may find it fun. This is not a bad mix, at all.
Does a crap-ton of forced trailers before the main menu count as an extra? If so, then this disc loaded!
I like Tyler Perry. I think he can make an interesting, positive film every now and then. I just don't think he made anything worth a damn in his first film adaptation. 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman' drove me mad. It's preachy, ridiculous, and a misuse of one of the only times Madea is funny on film. That's criminal. This Lionsgate Blu-ray has questionable video, good audio, and a bulk of extras. This one is for fans only, fans who are likely to be pissed off that I just completely denounced this film almost entirely.