Dave's Rating:

3.5

… really isn't so bad.

Who's in It: Gabrielle Union, Idris Elba, Louis Gossett Jr., Tracee Ellis Ross

The Basics: An upstanding, churchgoing mechanic (Elba) falls for the lawyer (Union) representing him in a custody hearing against the mother of his three daughters. The bio-mom hangs out with murderous drug dealers who abuse the kids, and she actually forces her oldest daughter to start dealing drugs, too. So, you know, the deck is somewhat stacked in his favor.

What's the Deal? Because writer/director Tyler Perry dismisses all critical evaluations of his pandering — excuse me, I meant to say "crowd-pleasing" — movies, I hope that one of his close female confidantes like Tyra or Oprah let him know that this is his best movie to date. Maybe he'll listen to them. Now it's easy to say that, because the other two were so rock-bottom stupid that the only way was up. But this one really isn't so bad. It's still a melodrama with a school-bully chokehold on your sympathy glands, but …

And Here's What Saves It: Perry isn't in the movie running around in drag as an old fat lady who commits hilariously violent acts of discipline in the name of the Lord. He may have finally discovered how to give a movie a not-out-of-its-head authorial tone.

Number of Minutes Spent Reminding You That You Should Go to Church and If You Don't, Then Clearly You're a Ho and/or a Drug Dealer: A mere two or three.

MVP Award: Goes to Union, who makes the formula seem like it's not one.

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