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"Diary of a Mad Black Woman"

Directed by Darren Grant.
Written by Tyler Perry, based on his play of the same name.
Starring Kimberly Elise, Shemar Moore, Steve Harris and Tyler Perry.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  3/3/05


I'm pretty sure of this, but I would need to run through my full ~650 reviews to be sure--"Diary of a Mad Black Woman" is the first movie to debut at #1 at the box office for which I didn't see a SINGLE TRAILER.  I did see a couple of posters at the movie theater next to my apartment building, but that's it.  No trailers in theaters, odd given that I go to theaters three times a week.  No TV ads, although I will admit that I do not watch shows on networks like BET, UPN or the W-Black.  (Of course, if it's not on FOX or ESPN, I probably would have never seen a trailer, anyway.)  No radio ads, either; the only radio stations I listen to are "urban/contemporary" stations, prime targets for a radio spot.

All of this being said, while I had not seen any trailers, I had heard that the reviews for "Diary of a Mad Black Woman"--based on Tyler Perry's play of the same name--were VERY mixed, which usually means some were so-so, and some of the reviews were flat-out dogshit.  After fifteen minutes of watching this movie, I seriously considered walking was that bad.  But, it did get ever-so-slightly better over the course of two hours and I don't feel all that bad about dropping $9.50 on it now.  (Kinda bad, just not awful.)

We start off by meeting a successful Atlanta lawyer named Charles (Steve Harris, from "The Practice") and his devoted wife (Kimberly Elise)...however, we soon find out that Charles isn't quite as devoted to this relationship as Helen is.  Five screen minutes later, we meet Charles' mistress, their love child, and Charles' foot on Helen's ass as she gets the boot from Charles' mansion and his life.  Helen doesn't understand how her marriage of 18 years has suddenly crumbled; as she attempts to pick up the pieces, she moves in with her aunt Madea (Perry, who plays other roles in the film as well), who teaches Helen not to be remorseful or sad for her current situation...don't get mad, girl, get even!  A romance with a suspiciously-handsome steel worker (Shemar Moore, who in a shocking turn of events takes his shirt off four times) follows, Charles and his relationship takes a turn for the worse, some more shit happens,...

The thing is, the film starts out as black comedy...or, maybe it just seemed like it should be a black comedy.  See, Perry's script tries to paint Helen as plain ol' naive, coming to the realization that her husband doesn't love her any more about five years too late.  The act of her getting booted from the house seems like it should have been funnier...but, then I thought about it (I had time, since so much of this early portion was dogshit) and I was thinking

"Should they be playing this for laughs, or to cynically point out that people are staying with partners that don't love them for too long and this is how bad it can get?"

"Diary of a Mad Black Woman" seems to toe this line for its entire running time.  Periodically, there are laughs, usually thanks to the Perry role of Madea, who says a lot of dumb shit but some of the jokes really hit the mark.  Kind of like the banter between the Klumps in "The Nutty Professor 2" or the barbershop commentary in "Coming to America", Madea's take on everything played off of Helen and Madea's husband (also played by Perry) was often some really funny stuff.  Too bad that character doesn't get more screen time.  Any so-called drama in this movie evaporates into thin air the second it is introduced.  The romantic angle with the steel worker and Helen is laughable; sometimes, the soundtrack for this movie is terrible.  In many ways, "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" is a fucking train wreck; it's a great-looking production that seems to have no idea what it wants to say.  The last 30 minutes of the movie just look lost; first, it's one thing, then, it's a Bill-loses-Jane scenario.  Then, it's a psychological drama.  Then, it's like the ending of "Pieces of April."  Then, it's like an episode of "The Simpsons", with a dreamy, no-fucking-way ending, stolen straight from an episode where Homer and Marge get back together at the nuclear plant, and Homer announces

"This is my wife!  I'm going out to my car, and I won't be back for...FIFTEEN MINUTES!" [insert applause by other co-workers]

I mean, really, a train wreck.  I would love to know what bits Perry added or deleted from his original work to make this thing fly as a movie; what we have is a bit of a mess.  But, I still think that some of the Madea bits would be worth seeing on video...but, I can't see any good reason to drop $9 in a theater for this poo.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09