DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN
Cast Your Cares Upon Jesus
Release Date: February 25, 2005
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 117 minutes
Distributor: Lions Gate Films
Director: Darren Grant
Producer: Reuben Cannon and Tyler Perry
Writer: Tyler Perry
Address Comments To:Tom Ortenberg, President
Lions Gate Films
4553 Glencoe Ave., Suite 200
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Phone: (310) 314-2000
Fax: (310) 396-6041
This positive ending is not foreshadowed by the movie’s stark opening, which begins with a rich black lawyer named Charles throwing his wife of 18 years, Helen, out of their big mansion, in favor of his mistress and their two illegitimate children. With no place to go, Helen knocks on her feisty grandmother’s house. Her grandmother, Madea, who is clearly played by a man in a fat woman suit, urges Helen to go back and demand what is hers. Helen reluctantly agrees, and the two women end up in jail. Admonished by the judge, Helen and Madea get out, but the judge places Madea under house arrest, because this isn’t the first time she’s been in the judge’s court.
Slowly, Helen puts her life back in order. She gets a waitress job, hires her cousin, Brian, as her divorce lawyer, goes to church, and starts a romance with Brian’s handsome friend Orlando, who also happens to be the U-haul driver hired by her husband to take her and her clothes wherever she wanted to go. Despite her judgment that the good-natured Orlando seems too good to be true, Helen falls in love with him.
Helen also reunites with her mother, Myrtle. Though still healthy, Myrtle is in a nursing home because Helen’s mean, philandering husband didn’t want them to be burdened with her. Myrtle, however, is a forgiving Christian who counsels Helen that Helen must learn to forgive her husband, before Helen’s anger and revenge gets the better of her. In a major sub-plot, Myrtle also counsels Helen’s cousin, Brian, to try to keep helping his estranged, junkie wife get off drugs.
Although Helen makes real progress as a realistic, but forgiving Christian, a twist of fate gives her the opportunity for sweet revenge against her husband, who is as mean and evil as ever. Helen’s anger gets the better of her for a time, but events lead to a Christian conclusion ending in a rousing, Christ-centered Gospel church service.
The first part of DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN is very uneven. Before Helen re-discovers Jesus through her mother and her boyfriend, Orlando, the movie veers between outlandish, earthy comedy and stark melodrama. The rest of the movie also contains these things, but they are tempered by a quiet, emotionally powerful, ultimately uplifting tone infused with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It all comes together in the movie’s Christian references, including several positive Gospel songs.
Screenwriter and producer Tyler Perry not only plays the serious cousin, he also appears in makeup as the feisty gun-toting grandmother, Madea, and Madea’s pot-smoking elderly brother Joe. Madea and Joe are outrageous characters who don’t really fit the rest of the movie, but Joe is the more obnoxious character. Many viewers will laugh heartily at Madea’s feisty attitude. Madea’s belief in revenge and Joe’s lewd behavior are contrasted with the benevolent Christian character of Helen’s mother and the movie’s very strong Christian worldview. In fact, the movie has one of the stronger overtly Christian endings in recent years, except for a couple outtakes during the end credits. One of the repeated Christian messages in this movie is not only the need for forgiveness and compassion but also the message that we must cast our cares upon our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Not surprisingly, this Christian worldview has begun to make DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN something of a sleeper hit. That said, the script and some of the performances definitely need more judicious editing. Also, some of the movie’s earthy humor, drug references and an abundant use of the “h” obscenity require caution for teenagers under 16 or 17. The conflict between Helen and her husband is also somewhat disturbing in a few scenes, but DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN is good enough, and overtly redemptive enough, to be considered for the Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Movie next year.
The first part of DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN is very uneven. The movie veers between outlandish, earthy comedy and stark melodrama. The rest of the movie also contains these things, but they are tempered by an emotionally powerful, ultimately uplifting spiritual tone infused with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It all comes together in the movie’s Christian references, including several positive Gospel songs. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for teenagers under 17, however.