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February 2005

By Wilson Morales

Diary of a Mad Black Woman

Distributor: Lions Gate Films
Director: Darren Grant
Producer: Tyler Perry & Reuben Cannon
Screenwriter: Tyler Perry
Cast: Kimberly Elise, Steve Harris, Tyler Perry, Shemar Moore, Tiffany Evans, and Cicely Tyson
Running Time: 116 min




What happens when you bring a hit play to the big screen and keep the same story in tact without really having to make major adaptations? Well, if it played well, then youıve got a hit on your hands. But if part of the ingredient that makes the show a hit has been used before in other films, then the film is seen as unoriginal and thatıs the problem with Tyler Perryıs Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Based on the play of the same name by Tyler Perry, the focal point of the story is its core character, Madea, played by Perry. Having seen the character in the theater, Madea is the draw. Sheıs funny, obnoxious, and a big woman who preaches the word of God at times although she doesnıt attend church. On the big screen, the big woman played by males has been done before with Eddie Murphy (The Nutty Professor) and Martin Lawrence (Big Mommaıs House). In those films, Murphy and Lawrence were the core characters. In Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea comes across as a distraction to a story that focuses on someone else. The balance of comedy and drama is wildly uneven in this film, but fans of the play will come out in droves to see Madea on the big screen.

Kimberly Elise plays Helen McCarter, loving wife of 18 years to Charles McCarter (Harris). Although the married couple have been seen in public as a loving family, it is quite the opposite. When Helen comes home one day to see that a moving van has her clothes, she assumes Charles is trying to changes their lives for the better. What she didnıt realize was that Charles was changing his life and she was not to be a part of it. To top that off, Charles has brought his mistress to the house and drags Helen out by the shoulders. Seems that not only is the other woman is his mistress, but sheıs also the mother of his 2 illegitimate kids. Witness by Orlando (Moore), who was driving the van, he offers Helen a ride until she bites his head off for asking too many questions. She heads across town to the one person who would take her in, Grandma Madea (Perry). Madea does all she can to fight for Helenıs right while Helen struggles to get her self-esteem back and find someone to love again.

The problem with the film is that Perry decided to play 3 roles (Madea, the lawyer, and the uncle) and Eddie Murphy did that years ago in ³The Nutty Professor². The play is a comedy but the film is a mix of comedy and drama that isnıt balanced equally. Some of the humor works when Madea is first introduced and she pulls out her trademark gun in the purse which many fans of the play will remember, but then she disappears for long stretches, and the films hangs on Eliseıs to carry the film. Elise is good in some areas but for the most part, her acting is bland as is Moore. Moore has always played roles thatıs meant to be eye-candy for the ladies and this role is no different. Harris is a very good actor, but here, his character is so one note, he canıt much do much but the role straight as the bad guy. Another thing is that at some point, one can sense that there was another story to Charlesıs character that somehow got cut. To fans of the play, they are going to love to see Madea on the big screen after seeing her on stage or on DVD, but to newcomers, nothing new is developed here.