Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns


Prolific filmmaker-mogul Tyler Perry’s fifth feature since 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman (his sixth is already scheduled for a September release) is surprisingly half-decent—surprising because Perry’s 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 film’s 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 father’s funeral, Brenda makes earnest efforts to refuse handouts from the eccentric extended family she’s just gained—as 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; Perry’s pot-smoking granny Madea only turns up in cameo, fortunately, but David Mann’s leisure-suited buffoon Leroy may be too shrill for those Perry has yet to convert.