Who's In It: Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise, Whoopi Goldberg, Macy Gray, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Tessa Thompson, Kerry Washington
The Basics: A group of loosely connected women--some of them inhabiting the same apartment building, the others crossing their paths--live life in an agonizingly dumb Tyler Perry melodrama and pause every now and then to look at the camera and deliver flowery, poetic (and lengthy) monologues originally created by playwright Ntozake Shange in 1974 for her Tony Award-winning "choreopoem" titled For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. It's only jarring and exhausting if you have a thing for non-silly/non-shrieking adaptations of iconic theater pieces.
What's The Deal: The movie destroyer best known for Madea Goes to Jail is back again and this time he wants an Oscar nomination. To that end he's put a lot of really good actresses (and Janet Jackson) into a big lurching truck of exposition and hollering and driven them over a cliff of insanity into a lake made from everybody crying so much. Don't care much for the gentle, fluid, mournful prose-poetry of Ntozake Shange? Then just wait a second until Anika Noni Rose finishes up swirling around while rhapsodizing over Cuban salsa music and silky dresses. When that confusing stuff is over, the wacky telenovela dialogue and situations Tyler Perry wrote to solder it all together cranks into gear, the story-moving characters begin to fight and dangle their helpless, abused children from third-story windows and everybody starts screaming, "SHUT UP BITCH!" at each other. You'll really like those parts.
The Person I Spent A Lot Of Time Thinking About: Kasi Lemmons. It's okay if you don't know her name. She's the acclaimed African-American director of the fantastically strange Eve's Bayou. Go put it in your Netflix queue. I wondered how she (or other female directors like Julie Dash, Sanaa Hamri or Cheryl Dunye) would have approached this material. Maybe she would have left well enough alone and not even tried to adapt emotionally weighty soliloquies about bodies and struggle, reveries that regularly spin into the air with images of "lilies and moonstones." Maybe she'd have tried to patchwork it into a linear story too. But something tells me it still wouldn't have turned out like this very special rape-and-doom-themed episode of 227.
Who Emerges Unscathed: Almost everyone in the cast is too talented for this, but Kimberly Elise, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose and Kerry Washington still manage to come out ahead. And Loretta Devine gets to have all the best "And I Am Telling You"-style monologues. But the wickedly talented Thandie Newton plays a one-note angry slut and Whoopi Goldberg takes on the thankless role of claws-out nutjob, an updated Piper Laurie in Carrie.
What Men Can Learn About Themselves From This: That all they do is sexually assault, hit, punch, ignore, impregnate, cheat and get their toxic down-low gayness all over unsuspecting women. Perry forgot to include a shirtless, church-going, blue collar "good man" in this one. If you want that then go watch Daddy's Little Girls.