I Can Do Bad All By Myself

Distributed By: Lionsgate

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                I love Tyler Perry’s films, especially those in which the character Madea has a large role.  So, when I saw the movie I Can Do Bad All By Myself in the supermarket for an amazing price, I couldn’t pass up buying it.

                It all begins when Madea (Tyler Perry) catches three children breaking into her home.   After talking with Jennifer (Hope Olaide Wilson), Manny (Kwesi Boakye) and Byron (Frederick Siglar) and learning their story, Madea can’t help but feel sorry for the children.  Apparently, their mother was dead and they lived with their grandmother.  A few days ago, their grandmother left for work and never returned.  Understanding the children’s plight, but put off by Jennifer’s untrusting and seemingly disrespectful attitude, Madea takes them to their closest relative, nightclub singer April (Taraji P. Henson).

                Unfortunately, April doesn’t have time for her dead, drug-addicted sister’s children.  She works late nights, has a bit of a drinking problem and a boyfriend (Brian White) who is married with children that helps pay the bills.  Just around the same time, the local pastor (Marvin L. Winans) asks April to allow an immigrant from Columbia to live in her home in exchange for performing odd jobs around the house.  April is hesitant to allow Sandino (Adam Rodriguez) to stay in her home, but it is in serious need of repair and the repairs would be free, so she offers him the basement to live in.

                Sandino quickly gets along with the children and helps take care of them when April isn’t home.  But April’s boyfriend is not at all happy with the situation and when April discovers that her mother has died and the children truly have no place else to go, things head on a collision course with disaster.

                  Originally based on Tyler Perry’s play of the same name, Perry decided to do things a little differently with the movie version of I Can Do Bad All By Myself.  Bringing in Gladys Knight and Mary J. Blige, Perry made this film a dramedy filled with music.  The songs in the film, performed by Knight, Blije, Henson and Winans, help tell the story of the movie.  They relate the character’s strife, sense of despair and pain and a sense of hope.  The songs defined the character of April and the struggles she undergoes to become the woman she is meant to be.

                The storyline of the film is pure Tyler Perry, featuring what appears to be a fairly weak woman with less than moral values turn into the woman everyone around her sees hiding inside: a strong, caring woman with strong moral values and a desire to help those in need.  The problem with April is that she can’t see these characteristics in herself.  Having been hurt in her past, April constantly pushes away anyone willing to get close.  Fortunately, Perry surrounds April with people willing to help her, enough so she can prevent her own niece from following in her footsteps.

                As always, Madea is there to offer up the comedic moments in the heavy drama of the film.  One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Madea tries to teach Jennifer how to pray and ends up relating the story of Peter, one of Jesus’ twelve “disciplines.”  As Marvin L. Winans states in the DVD version’s extras, Madea needs to brush up on her bible knowledge, but it makes for a hilarious moment in the film.

                The DVD version of the film comes complete with three featurettes – A Soulful Ensemble, Tyler Perry’s Block Party and The Power of Music – that explain the casting, creation of the sets, music and more.  I know, you’re wondering about deleted scenes and such, but those are not needed as extras – you can see dozens of hilarious outtakes during the end credits scroll.

                I’ve seen quite a few Tyler Perry films by now, but I can honestly say that I Can Do Bad All By Myself has become my favorite.  With a gripping story, powerful acting, music that enhances the drama of the story and the comedy of Madea that offers up a break from all of the drama, I Can Do Bad All By Myself is a well-rounded film that will convince viewers of Tyler Perry’s skill in bringing a story to life.  If anyone was to ask me where they should start with Perry’s films, this would be the one I would suggest.  While others have come before it, I Can Do Bad All By Myself showcases Tyler Perry’s storytelling talent and vision.


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