Prolific filmmaker-mogul Tyler Perrys fifth feature since 2005s Diary of a Mad Black Woman (his sixth is already scheduled for a September release) is surprisingly half-decentsurprising because Perrys not about to switch up his hardly revelatory but consistently bankable box-office signature: African-American familial drama, complete with soapy romance, broadly farcical supporting roles, and motivational Christian principles. Finding a positive, progressive tone in what would ordinarily be played as woe-is-me melodrama, Meet the Browns is the story of an inner-city Chicago woman of tireless integrity, single mother of three Brenda (Angela Bassett, the films soul and highlight), who remains strong even after being laid off: One thing a black woman know how to do is make it. Keeping her head up when she and the kids travel to Georgia to attend her long-estranged fathers funeral, Brenda makes earnest efforts to refuse handouts from the eccentric extended family shes just gainedas well as romantic advances from the amateur b-ball scout (Rick Fox) who may or may not want to cash in on her talented son. Unlike Diary, the drama here is buoyant enough to handle the contrast of its too-silly slapstick; Perrys pot-smoking granny Madea only turns up in cameo, fortunately, but David Manns leisure-suited buffoon Leroy may be too shrill for those Perry has yet to convert.
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