Meet the Browns

Distributed By: Lionsgate

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            For years now, my brother has been raving about Tyler Perry’s work and trying to get me to see one of his movies.  It wasn’t that I had no interest in seeing them.  After all, I thought that Diary of a Mad Black Woman looked rather interesting.   But, for some reason, I would always skip these movies whenever visiting the video rental store.  It might have been the character of Madea that turned me off.  While I can see the comedy factor in Tyler Perry in drag, portraying a crazy lady named Madea, for some reason, watching a movie fraught with her adventures seemed a little much for me.  For whatever reason, I had yet to see a Tyler Perry film until I started to see promos for Meet the Browns.  The promos were so hysterical, I simply had to see this film.  I hadn’t even realized it was a Tyler Perry film until I rented the movie.  Now, after all these years, I must tell my brother how right he was.

            Meet the Browns is a romantic dramedy based on the play of the same name by Tyler Perry and features Angela Bassett as Brenda, a single mother struggling to stay afloat amidst rising bills and falling salaries.  Her biggest fear is that her son, Michael (Lance Gross), a high school basketball star, will fall prey to the neighborhood they live in and become one of the local teenage drug-dealing never-do-wells like his friend Calvin.  One day, Brenda receives a letter asking her to come to Georgia to attend the funeral of the father she never met.  At first she pushes aside the notion of traveling all that way to meet a family she never knew, but shortly after receiving the letter, Brenda’s world begins to fall apart.  She loses her job and is rejected by Michael’s construction worker father when she asks him for help with the bills.  Realizing she needs a change of scenery, Brenda travels to Georgia and is introduced to the Brown family.  One night with the Browns, and Brenda knows her world will never be the same.

            Angela Bassett was terrific as always in her role as a mother willing to go without for the sake of her children.  David Mann is rather funny as the colorful and slightly addled Leroy Brown.  But Jennifer Lewis steals the show as alcoholic sister Vera.  In fact, it was Vera’s antics in the movie’s promos that made me want to see this film.  Her outlandish, attention seeking ways had me in stitches.  Former basketball player now actor Rick Fox was surprisingly charming as a basketball coach/scout and possible love interest for Brenda.  I had only seen his acting once before, and his stint on Ugly Betty would in no way give me any idea of his acting capabilities.  And yes, Tyler Perry make an appearance in this film…and yes, there is definitely a scene or two with Madea.  After all, as we soon learn, Brenda’s cousin Cora (Tamela Brown) is actually Leroy and Madea’s love child.

            Meet the Browns was an enjoyable watch from start to finish.  What I love about the film is that it doesn’t really fit into one genre.  There’s drama, comedy, romance – the movie is well-rounded and has something for all movie fans.  There’s even some action in there as Madea takes police on a car chase along the interstate.  No doubt, her arrest in this film will spark a sequel.  The way Tyler Perry mixes the genres is genius.  Just when you feel like the drama of the movie is weighing on you, Perry inserts a bit of comedy.  The laughter inspired by the comedy scene is ultimately dependent on how dramatic the scenes before it – small drama, an ounce of comedy…real, heavy drama, a heavy dose of the Browns.

            Yes, dear brother, you were right – Tyler Perry movies are emotional rollercoaster rides that keep you coming back for more.  Now, I most definitely will have to head back out to the local video store and rent the rest of Tyler Perry’s films.  I hate when he’s right!


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