tyler-perry.jpgI have a confession to make.  I have begun to fall out of love with movies and fall more in love with television.  It’s bad.  I know.  As a film critic, a love of films is a requirement.

But it is inevitable, given that television has become much, much better than films.
In TV, the characters are built much better, the plot points are oh so juicy, and the shows are easily accessible.  With movies, you watch a trailer, pay for your ticket and hope for the best.  These days, more times than not, I’ve found myself feeling tepid about what’s being shown on the big screen.  I long for a great film.

Now, Tyler Perry may not be the first name that comes up in a conversation of engaging entertainment. But entertainment is entertainment, especially the humorous, high glossy ones.  Which brings me to Perry’s latest film: The Single Moms Club.  The film is not what it should be, but it’s better than its counterparts.

And, it does lend itself to understanding the female experience as single moms.  It’s just the packaging of this latest project from Perry that needs some work.

PLOT POINTS

The plot of Single Moms is just as cheesy as the title suggests. The premise is five women from different “walks of life” who happen to be single mothers are thrust together by their children’s private school, West Merryville Preparatory School. Their children have gotten into some trouble and the school is threatening to expel them.

That is unless the women can plan a spectacular dance at the school.  By the way, these women realize they have a lot more in common and form a Single Moms Club, so they can party on the weekends and each one takes turns watching all of the kids.

With this plot, think First Wives Club without the catchy music, stellar actresses and  bigger-than-being-bitter-women ending.  According to an email blast to all of his fans, Perry’s objective for this film was to show single moms that he understands how hard it is to raise a child on your own.

It’s also for people like me, who were raised by a single mother.  Examining the plot, given Perry’s objective, it falls flat. It still hasn’t been fully realized. At its core, it’s just a film about lonely single moms who each just happen to have hot men courting them and need some excitement in their lives. This isn’t really life, though.

Nothing is that cookie-cutter-perfect in life.

CHARACTER DRIVEN?

I suppose Perry didn’t want to go too complicated with his plot. So, he used stock characters to explore each mom.  May (Nia Long) is the mother with a job, trying to become a published author. Jan (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is an ice queen editrix with a daughter who is getting a little loose.

Lytia (Cocoa Brown) is the “ghetto mom” of the group with five kids; two of whom are in jail. This makes Lytia work harder to keep her son, Hakim (DeVion Harris), out of the streets.

Hillary (Amy Smart) is going through a messy divorce with her trial lawyer soon-to-be-ex.  She has spent her entire motherhood letting her housekeeper raise her children. And, there’s Esperanza (Zulay Henao), the Colombian beauty who is not as funny as Sophia Vergara.

The men include: May’s “rock” in the friend zone TK (Perry), muscle man Branson (Terry Crews), hot Latin guy with the gorgeous body Manny (William Levy), hot neighbor Peter (Ryan Eggold), and Esperanza’s mean ex-husband Santos (Tyler Perry staple Eddie Cibrian). 

The characters fall flat as basic stereotypes.  The only character in the film that is somewhat realized is May. Granted, that could be because Long is a seasoned actress and really tried to flesh out her character.

Or Perry likes May a lot more than the other characters.  Even McLendon-Covey gives a surprisingly watered down performance, which is such a disappointment, because she is quite a funny actress.

Despite dripping in cheese, Single Moms Club is a decent film that women will enjoy during a night out with the girls.  As long as those women aren’t looking for substance or finely drawn characters, they will enjoy this film.