For Colored Folks Who May Consider Boycotting Bad Films In The Future

For Colored Folks Who May Consider Boycotting Bad Films In The Future
by Darnell Lamont Walker

“I loved you on purpose,” cried the lady in blue.
i hated you the same way, is what I wanted to yell at the screen for this sketchy rendition of a masterpiece.
forgive this review for it’s randomness, but i took notes in the dark on purple paper with black ink, so I can barely make some of it out myself.

there’s a reason i’ve been hoping for the death of this film long before it came out. actually several, but let’s start with number one:

i am an artist. it took a while for me to accept that, but that’s what i am. and being an artist, i know art. FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF is art. it was art when i read it in 1995, and it was art again when Teresa Dowell-Vest, one of the greatest writers and directors i know, directed the stage play in 1998. being unfortunate enough to have witnessed the many catastrophes Perry has put on screen, i didn’t want this to end up in the same file cabinet.

number two:

For Colored Girls is a show about women, for women. it’s about women loving women, and women loving self. “how can can misogynist, self-loathing, irresponsible filmmaker bring across the views of a womanist,” i asked myself, assuming Ntozake Shange is a womanist. and what would his usual target audience (middle aged, african american women who never learned about the construction of false identities, communities, and life imitating art) think of this? “they’ll love it, i know”was my answer.

What’s hard for me is finding a good starting point, and how to enter this with you all. should i assume that most people have seen the stage play? or at least read it? No, I know my target audience, so i’ll just start from scratch:

thin lines didn’t exist in this film. the line drawn between Shange’s words and Perry’s cliche’d phrases and jokes could withstand a New York City subway system. when the poems/monolongues (shange’s words) ended, there was an immediate shift. had the brilliant, beautiful woman sitting next to me not noticed the same thing, i’d think i was crazy. i am not crazy. we, as an entire audience, attached ourselves to Shange’s words hoping they’d never end, but when they did, we sat back in our seats, slumped and frustrated at the simpleness and surface level attempts at poetry. made by the new writer.

speaking of surface level, who in the hell were these characters? thank god for the magnificent talent that made up this near-perfect cast, but they should all feel cheated. i had no allegiance to any of them. i felt nothing. i knew not where they came from nor where they were going. they could have worn sunshades throughout the whole film, and a difference would not have been made. soul-less “ghouls” created by the director, who seems to be making poor character development his signature, like Spike Lee made the stroll his.

Kimberly Elise has always been among my top five list of favorite actresses, and after seeing this film, you will know why. i can’t say for sure, but I am sure the greatness of actors such as Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington, Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose and the woman who will one day be my wife (in this life or the next) Phylicia Rashad guaranteed a quality we may not have gotten had Beyonce accepted and Mariah Carey stayed. Tessa Thompson was outstanding and Janet was a brilliant surprise, making this role one of her best portrayals of an actress, although she was merely playing the “colored” version of Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly.

While trying to figure out how and why an untreated STD worked it’s way into the film, and was never mentioned again, i counted: 1 Rape, 2 STD’s, 1 Black man on the “downlow”, and a partridge in a pear tree. and as much as i tried not writing this into the review, i have to: when can we have a “colored” film without the cliched downlow brother creating paranoia? while this issue does exist, i’d for once like to go to the theater to see a “colored” film without it. related: these bad black men, who failed to appear as anything other than a mention in the stage play, came to life as the the accomplices of these main women who apparently wanted to bring pain on themselves. [you have to take some of the responsibility. how much is up to you] is what, or close to what, Gilda (Rashad) told Crystal/Lady in Brown(Elise).

and the one solid brother in the film, Donald, played by Hill Harper, was in the clear with me until his wife’s breakdown. she had guilt on her heart because she failed to do her job which would have prevented an ungodly tragedy. he woke up, saw her crying, and let her know that his love for her would heal her, and not to worry any longer. where would you women be without a man created by Perry? LOST!

For my own pleasure, i’d love for you all to take a look at the clearly fake tattoo work given to Beau WIllie, played by Michael Ealy, and Rose, the back alley abortionist, played by Macy Gray.

aside from maybe one too many aerial shots and the light meant for a milk-skinned white woman placed on Khalil Kain’s (who played Bill) face, I give the production crew a standing ovation. out of 10, i give this film a 5.5 because Ntozake Shange’s half was damn near perfect. and the .5 comes for tyler’s attempts at beefing promotion while failing to mention his own RAINBOW on oprah not too long ago.

Thank You,

Darnell Lamont Walker

Production: Lionsgate and TPS present a 34th Street Films/Lionsgate production
Cast: Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Michael Ealy, Kimberly Elise, Omari Hardwick, Hill Harper, Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Tessa Thompson, Kerry Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Macy Gray
Director-screenwriter: Tyler Perry
Based on the play by: Ntozake Shange
Producers: Tyler Perry, Paul Hall, Roger M. Bobb
Executive producers: Ozzie Areu, Joseph P. Genier, Nzingha Stewart, Michael Paseornek
Director of photography: Alexander Gruszynski
Production designer: Ina Mayhew
Music: Aaron Zigman
Costume designer: Johnetta Boone
Editor: Maysie Hoy
Rated R, 120 minutes

8 thoughts on “For Colored Folks Who May Consider Boycotting Bad Films In The Future

  1. I’m seeing this on Saturday, when I land in NY…You heightened my curiosity. Being a Janet supporter, I’m pleased by the responses to her work here. I am, however, delighted that Mariah backed out. Her flat portrayal in Precious left much to be desired.

    How was Macy Gray?

  2. Being familiar with play I was very hesitant to even give the film a chance until I read this. Tyler Perry’s idea of character development is weight loss.

  3. Ok, Head, here it goes…this was a really good movie! Like all movies, it had its flaws, but overall, it was great. You are overly critical because you genuinely hate Tyler and are a writer. I get that. I dont think this film ever stood a chance with you purely because of your disdain for Tyler. 5.5 out of 10? C’mon…this film deserves at least a 7…as least! Yes, the acting definitely saved it. Bad actors can definitely ruin a good screenplay! Everyone showed up and showed out! Majority of the actors portrayed similar characters in other roles, so that could have added to the superb performances. I will say tho that the men surprised me the most…yea Ealy brought out his inner “Tea Cake” and Harper channeled his book…LOL, but Khalil Kain and Omari Hardrict (sp) really surprised me. It wasnt hard to figure out what was going to happen but the way the stories unfolded…was another surprise. I called the rape coming and the HIV, but the performances were so convincing! I will say that my biggest issue with Tyler is that he dumbs down his plots…if that makes sense. He could have left out the oral sex scene in the car, for example. He spoon feeds his audience and that irks me! The cough that Janet’s character had brilliant and Kimberly’s character constantly referring to her man’s pills…really made the outcomes make sense. Overall, the movie was good, but this is all coming from a movie buff, media scholar who never saw the play or read the book. #PonderOnThat

  4. I just saw the movie last night. I completely agree with what you said. I think this play is problematic to convert to film. It really should have been a period piece. Some of the content of the poems didn’t fit to modern times. For instance Nyla’s poem about loosing her virginity, the language was dated. Nyla also would have more sense now a days to go to planned parenthood or something, back alley abortions seem to be a thing of the past. It just didn’t make sense, it wasn’t real for me. I was willing to have my suspension of disbelief go that far. Also the premise of Beau Willie being crazy from the war, that’s a Vietnam war issue not necessarily an Iraq war issue. Half of the homeless people on the street are probably war veterans. Also why was Crystal living in utter poverty but working for Janet Jackson’s character, what was she paying her 20 cents a day? And those fake ass tattoos on Beau Willie totally irked me, I mean was that magic marker? The acting was great but the ties that Tyler Perry had to make to move the film along were just weak to me. In general some plays should just remain plays, this was one of them. There are some conventions and elements of theater that just don’t work for film. I’ve seen this play before and the poems/monologues carried more power behind them than they did in this movie.

  5. Neosho, the first line WAS from the lady in blue in the play.

    I totally agree with the review and I am a Tyler Perry fan. I guess coming from a theatre background and loving the raw humanity of the choreopoem, I was left a little disappointed.

    But Kirsten, veterans coming home from Iraq/Afghanistan face the same mental issues as those who came home from Vietnam. I’ve seen first-hand with my father (Vietnam vet) and my husband (Afghanistan vet). War changes people; the effects transcend time. However, the parts of the movie I really enjoyed were those lines I could recite verbatim from the play–Ntozake Shange’s words.

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