Film

Film

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Since the late ’90s, Atlantan comedian-playwright Tyler Perry has toured the Christian theater circuit with bawdy inspirationals, fusing moral dogma, born-again uplift, tent revival music, and sitcom humor. The film adaptation of his 2001 play Diary of a Mad Black Woman follows rich wife Helen (played by Kimberly Elise, fresh from 2004’s soul-saving Woman Thou Art Loosed, Perry’s collab with preacher T.D. Jakes), who returns to the humble ‘hood after being jilted by her lawyer hubby. This rote melodrama weaves Helen’s rebound with sappier bits like the salvation of a drug addict during Sunday’s gospel crescendo. But Diary skirts Waiting to Exhale blandness with the appearance of Madea, a gun-toting, boob-heaving matriarch played by Perry himself. Like a slapstick china shop heifer, housedressed Perry out-Mommas Martin Lawrence with slang bluster: “Peace, be still? That’s why I always carry a big piece of steel!” The tonal collision is compounded when a goofy plot shift avails “mad as hell” Helen a chance to take some brutal revenge on her ex, and the film detours into an almost Miike-like torture sequence. Of course, in the Christian schema, even such cathartic burning-bed violence requires repentance. And by film’s end, contrite Helen is rewarded with the love of a God-fearing working man. Even Madea promises to get to church (or does she mean Comic View?) “as soon as y’all get a smokin’ section.”

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