Busta’s Movie Review: Should we give up on Tyler Perry?

Busta’s Movie Review: Should we give up on Tyler Perry?
February 18
11:33 2020

By Busta Brown

During Rev. Jessie Jackson’s commencement address at Bennett College in Greensboro, he read quotes from some of the most powerful black women in American history, from Harriet Tubman to Oprah. He followed up with a profound quote of his own and it spoke to my soul, “And strong black women just keep on coming.” The applause was deafening and his statement was accurate. As I looked around the auditorium, I saw the next generation of Tubmans, Dr. Angelous, Michelle Obamas, Oprahs, Parks and many other strong, intelligent and successful black women. I also thought about two of my favorite quotes: “The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood,” by Mary Mcleod Bethune, and the powerful words of Dr. James Emman Kwegyir, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation.” 

And Ava DuVernay did just that. She educated a nation with one of the most thought-provoking and necessary films in 2019, “When They See Us.“ Duvernay took us on a heartbreaking journey behind the scenes of police and political corruption at its worst. She exposed the injustice that so many young black men face daily. “When They See Us” was an on-time film. 

I remember seeing a short film about the life of Marvin Gaye. In the film, Gaye told Motown founder Berry Gordy he wrote the classic “What’s Going On” because he was tired of shuckin’ and jivin’, and wanted to educate and empower his people. 

When I saw the title of Tyler Perry’s latest film, “A Fall from Grace,” I thought about Marvin Gaye’s comment to Berry Gordy. During these times of social injustice for black women and men, I was excited about Tyler educating, empowering and growing his audience as well. “A Fall from Grace” received positive reviews from mostly black women and it’s one of Netflix’s most watched films. The twist at the end was as mysterious and nail-biting as “The Sixth Sense,” “Misery,” and any Hitchcock film. 

I’ve been a frequent moviegoer ever since I was four years old. My mom would take me and my siblings to the drive-in movie theater three times a month. I’ve seen a wide variety of films, from “Buck and The Preacher,” “The Mack,” “Super Fly,” “Claudine,” “Sparkle,” “Thomasine and Bushrod,” “Dirty Harry,” “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” ”Look Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Valley of the Dolls,” “Gone with the Wind,” “Blacula,” and “Abby,” to “Titanic” and “No Country for Old Men” and “Harry Potter. Most of my choices from the 70s were not on the most popular list, so I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. (Only serious moviegoers caught that pun.) At the age of 10, I’d trained my brain to figure out the plot and the ending of a film within 10 minutes and it drove my family and friends crazy. Yet, the twist to “A Fall from Grace” caught me off guard. Kudos to Tyler Perry! 

As for the film itself, I don’t have grace to give Perry; only God can. But what I can do is give you my review. I felt that it missed the mark of Mary Mcleod Bethune’s quote, “The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood.” It was the same typical Tyler Perry storyline –  a broken black woman needing the love, comfort and validation of a man. 

His female characters very rarely represent the strong black women that Jessie, Bethune and Emman Kwegyir spoke of. As a man raised by a single mother with the help of my three sisters, I was taught that a relationship won’t heal you, and being alone won’t kill you. Our queens aren’t falling for the wolf in sheep’s clothing anymore, because they’re too wise, too successful, and too strong. Our good black men are far more resembling of Shemar Moore’s character in “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” which is one of three of his films I did enjoy. At that point in his career, he was new and so was the storyline. 

In 2020, the plot continues. The strongest female character in “A Fall from Grace” surrendered to the stresses of her career as an attorney, and like all of Perry’s films, the man saves the day and pushed her through it. No shade on my brothas, but it’s normally the woman who pushes us through. Beside every good man, there’s a strong and good woman. Yet, Tyler seems to be stuck on the previous plots that made him a billionaire and it’s working. But how long can the cheating black man that mistreats and abuses his black queen entertain us? 

In his latest storyline, the woman is too weak and insecure to leave her low-down husband; it results in her trouncing him with a bat and then leaving him for dead. If the angry and violent black woman sounds familiar, it is. It’s reminiscent of the frying pan and grits scene in “Madea’s Family Reunion.” This typical Tyler Perry script shows very little compassion for his black audience. 

We’re living in some extremely hard times for black people and we need inspiration, empowerment and hope, but not at the continued expense of conjuring up our darkest and most painful emotions. The script treaded on a thin line between making Grace an attempted murderer or a hero. That’s not an accurate representation of a strong black woman. 

“A Fall from Grace” also proves that Perry continues to lack originality. It resembled some of the thriller type docuseries on the ID Network and classic thrillers such as the 80s blockbuster “Jagged Edge.” The legendary Cecily Tyson and Phylicia Rashad were great, but were overshadowed by poor scriptwriting and unpolished actors. 

So, if you’re tired, I strongly suggest you see it on a day you’re well rested, because you might fall asleep and miss the best part, the ending. I’ll be transparent and admit that I’m a huge fan of Perry’s stage plays, but it’s time for the film mogul to educate and grow his audience. Take us to a place in our hearts and minds that we’ve never been. Give us an escape from the pain and suffering, such as abusive relationships, lowdown men, low self-esteem, mothers with broken hearts, and so on. A laugh here and there and the mention of God’s name is not an escape. It’s only a Band-Aid. We need healing. I won’t give up on you, because I believe you can and will educate and grow us. 

So, Tyler Perry, I’ll see you at the movies. Or on Netflix. or OWN. Or BET. 

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