Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself is the much-anticipated film version of Perry's hit play of the same name.
April (played by Taraji P. Henson) is a night club singer and night-time alcoholic who is content with her life. She sings in a bar at night and sleeps the day away with her no-good boyfriend, Randy (Brian J. White).
When her mother disappears, she has to take in her niece and two nephews (Hope Olaide Wilson, Kwesi Boakye, and Frederick Siglar, respectively). From the time the kids arrive on her doorstep, April makes sure to let them know they are not wanted. Meanwhile, the church asks her to house a handyman named Sandino (Adam Rodriguez) while he does odd things around her house to fix it up.
For the film, the set really looked like a set. It didn't look authentic enough for me. Because everything is so close together in the film, I felt claustrophobic watching it. Thankfully, I had the drama unfolding in front of me, on screen, to keep me from needing a sedative. Thanks to screenwriter/director Perry, the drama is uplifting and not over the top.
I also like that Perry has a Latin romantic interest for his black female protagonist. Now, I'm going to be a little politically incorrect: More often than not, we black women see our black men attain success and go on to marry a white woman. I used to loathe this concept. After numerous arguments with my BFF (best friend forever) Lola, and knowing that this isn't a personal problem, I've come to accept this phenomenon.
Only, black men don't like to see black women date a white or Latino man. So, it's only fitting that Perry would explore a strong, black woman's falling in love with a Colombian man; a good man at that.
I wonder if Perry is subliminally telling black men that we women are not going to put up with their mess anymore; hence the title. And, we can taste other flavors, just like they can.
Speaking of other flavors, I had the pleasure of sitting and speaking with Rodriguez about playing Sandino. We met during a recent press day event for the film in Miami.
"I identified with Sandino in that there is a goodness in him, he really loves people, especially kids, and he isn't afraid to show people that he loves and cares for them," said Rodriguez, who taught me how to do the Heimlich maneuver just in case he choked on his salmon, while I hung on his every word. "That's the way that I go through my life."
After seeing the film and speaking with Rodriguez, I have found that he is, essentially, Sandino in a good way. He is very positive, and has such a tremendously great outlook on life that I couldn't help but be inspired by him in the 15 minutes that I talked with him.
"(Taraji and I) had great chemistry," Rodriguez said of the noble "blacktress" who won an Academy Award earlier this year. "She's one of my favorite people that I've ever met in this business."
Henson's April is almost completely detestable in killer outfits and her glammed out hairstyle. At first, I wanted to hate her. But I couldn't. Henson toes the line between hateful conceit and angry attitude in the beginning.
Once Perry pulls back her layers, however, we see a strong woman who has let her circumstances throw her down, but surrounds herself with enough inspirational women to climb out of the muck of her life; with Sandino's help, of course.
Other actors of note are White's randy Randy, who has an unfortunate meet with water. His character is totally irredeemable, but the actor himself is (and has always been) brave and quite talented. Perry's Madea and Joe are funnier this time around. Perry's interaction with the kids is laughable, in a good way.
Newcomer Wilson is a gutsy girl. She doesn't seem to have it in her, but then she surprises everyone.
Gladys Knight as Wilma and Mary J. Blige as Tanya serve as the mothers Perry is fond of featuring in his films. Wilma is the church lady with the voice of gold who uses good Christian values to lure potential followers of the Lord. Tanya is a lounge owner who tells April like it is. Her bluntness is just what April needs to see the light.
I love that Perry used both women, not just for their singing abilities, but also for the wisdom they obviously have. Also, Marvin Winans makes a few appearances as Pastor Brian.
I recommend that all women of all flavors and skin tones see this film with their best friends, decked out in their finest.
When you look good, you feel good; which is another message in I Can Do Bad All By Myself. Also, men should see this film, if for nothing else than to see how a good man acts toward a woman.
Sandino and Rodriguez are perfect examples.