Who's In It: Taraji P. Henson, Tyler Perry, Adam Rodriguez, Brian J. White, Hope Olaide Wilson, Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige, Marvin Winans
The Basics: A drunk angry woman has a married, violent, rapey creep of a boyfriend and a dead crack-addict sister and three loser kids she didn't ask to help raise and that drag queen Madea yelling at her and Mary J. Blige and Gladys Knight and one of several dozen Winans siblings ALL on her back for her to get her life together when all she wants is a little peace and some gin. Then she meets a Colombian immigrant handyman who fixes her house and takes her on a paddle-boat ride. Then they go to church where she learns that Jesus wants her behave and stop whoring around to marry the handyman and raise those damn kids. The End.
What's The Deal: It sure would be nice if Tyler Perry could learn how to direct a competent movie now that he's got his plot formula down. Because every single one of his films is exactly the same, you just substitute the way-better-than-this-material Taraji P. Henson for the way-better-than-that-other-material Angela Bassett and boom, there's the Tyler Perry movie you already know and love. So why are they always so clunky and dumb? And why do these women he claims to adore so much always have to wind up surrendering their lives to some fantasy plumber and a highly specific and conservative Southern Gospel version of Jesus? If Perry actually gave a damn about moviemaking he'd do better by his audience. It's not about scratching a target demographic's itch anymore. It's about being an insultingly lazy hack filmmaker.
Best Parts: Madea shows up to infuse completely inappropriate slapstick violence and verbal ramblings into what most films would consider extremely tragic circumstances. (Example: the kids find out that the one adult who cares about them is suddenly dead. This quickly turns into a comic monologue about The Bible, Jaws and rapper Eve. Because there's no human misery that can't be turned wacky if you just stomp on it hard enough.) There's also a good climactic moment when they try to electrocute the bad guy in a bathtub.
Featuring The Musical Stylings Of Two Women Whose Imaginary Concert Film I Kept Wishing I Was Watching Instead: '70s soul queen Gladys Knight plays a church lady who finds time to belt it out a couple of times during the movie, while current soul/hip-hop royalty Mary J. Blige also gets a couple of turns to make you temporarily forget the rest of this crap. When it's on cable you can just fast-forward the TiVo to these bits. And if this movie is extremely lucky then we might see Mary J perform the incredibly moving title song at the Oscars.