Um, first of all, I LOVE Angela Bassett. She is so pretty. Did you guys know she's 49 years old!? HYAH!!! It's true! If Angela Bassett had any work done (which she must have, right? have you seen her 29-year-old face?), then her plastic surgeon is the best plastic surgeon in the history of cutting people's faces apart and then putting them back together again only better. I would pay that dude big bucks to make me a new face, and I'm already totally satisfied with my regular face! But seriously. (Did you know she's married to Courtney B. Vance? And they coauthored a book called Friends: A Love Story? ADORABLESVILLE.)
In Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns—based, weakly and obviously, on Perry's stage play of the same name—Bassett plays Brenda, a single mom just gettin' by in the projects of Chicago. Perry packs the clichés in tight—so tight that it's alarming. Brenda was forced to drop out of school and get a series of dead-end jobs just to make ends meet ("I ended up having to drop out of school, working a bunch of dead-end jobs just to make ends meet!"). Brenda gets the mail: "These ain't nothin' but bills!" Her best friend is a sassy Latina named Cheryl ("Cheryl, why are you so crazy?" "Ay, mami! Because eet's FUN, because I LAAIK EET!"), and her son is a basketball star tempted by the old "dope game" ("Mom, I'm not trying to die to get to heaven—I want mine here on earth!"). The pair is wooed by a mysterious basketball recruiter, in the form of Rick Fox's zombie eyes and miniature beard.
When Brenda gets a letter inviting her to visit the family of her estranged late father, it's off to Georgia, where the hayseeds are shrill and fat: "Chicago! That's where them big buildings is, ain't it?" And, thank god, fucking hilarious. How can Tyler Perry be so good and so unforgivably TERRIBLE at the same time? The comic scenes—wherein the Browns, especially Leroy Brown (David Mann, my FAVORITE) and Vera (Jenifer Lewis) are free to scold and shriek and get the vapors—are a brilliant, manic mess. And then, just like that, Perry gives us this bullshit: "If some of these fathers don't take care of these babies then us single mothers gotta stick together." Wow. I guess I never thought about it like that before.
There's something satisfying about a balls-out melodrama, and something comforting in hearing simple stories told and retold. But that's not what this is. This is just shitty. This is Tyler Perry's Send Me Your Cashdollars. This is Tyler Perry's America's Cashdollars, Meet the Inside of Tyler Perry's Golden Money Clip. Bullshit.