Lionsgate // 2009 // 113 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 21st, 2010
Hope is closer than you think.
I don't know how I've avoided the Tyler Perry movie machine during my tenure here at Verdict, but he finally caught up with me. Okay, TP, what do you have for me?
Madea (Perry) finds three rapscallions nosing around her house one night, looking to steal some loot. After she grills the kids, she discovers they have no parents and their grandmother hasn't been seen in days. Their only living relative is Aunt April (Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), a nightclub singer with no self esteem and a married boyfriend.
When Madea drops the kids off at April's doorstep, she wants nothing to do with her niece and nephews. That sour attitude grows even more sour with the appearance of Sandino (Adam Rodriguez, CSI: Miami), a Mexican handyman with a heart of gold. And a possible love interest? Perhaps!
It seems like every time I glance at the local cinema listings, Tyler Perry has another movie out. And wandering down the aisles of the local video retailer? Straight-to-DVD Tyler Perry movies and filmed stage plays! The TV guide? A Tyler Perry show! This guy is more omnipresent than Allah. And yet, as I noted before, I have magically been able to sidestep reviewing his stuff.
To be completely honest, the thought of finally taking on one of his discs didn't appeal to me. However, I Can Do Bad All By Myself wasn't as painful as I had expected. Actually, it wasn't bad at all. While the package synopsis proclaims the film as a romantic comedy, it really isn't. There wasn't much quality humor and the meager scraps it does provide were limited to the Madea character, someone I grew tired of quickly. Thankfully, she wasn't around much.
Nope, this movie is a straight-arrow drama, centered on one woman's quest for love. Yes, I know how corny that sounds, but between Henson and Rodriguez, they really sell it. April is a believable character, trapped in a life devoid of self-worth. Sandino is a good, if heavy-handed and idealistic, counterweight. There's no mystery as to what's coming, but I bought it. Which is an apt summation of the entire movie experience: predictable, ham-fisted...and I bought it.
The Blu-ray isn't a top performer either. The 1.78:1 transfer is fine, but not reference quality by any means. While the colors and details are strong, the picture quality lacks the vibrancy and sheen of gold standard Blu releases. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is strong, but besides a handful of musical numbers, there's not much for the mix to do in this dialogue-heavy affair. Three featurettes accompany: "A Soulful Ensemble," spotlighting the cast; the song-centered "The Power of Music"; and "Tyler's Block Party," a look at the big finale set-piece.
It's well-acted and heartfelt, which is just enough for I Can Do Bad All By Myself to overcome its flaws.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 113 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13