I want to leave a disclaimer saying that I was invited to view a bootleg of this movie and yes, I accepted the invite. A great bootleg it was. Kudos to the creator. So, I gave Tyler Perry another chance. I am an abused partner in a relationship. Yeah. That’s exactly how I feel. I’ve given him over ten chances, each time telling myself that he’ll get better. That he took his time with this one. That he really wants to be respected by talented filmmakers. After seeing Good Deeds, I am sold on realizing that there will never be a talented storyteller inside of Tyler Perry, ever. It’s sad. It really is. Here is a man that has been granted every wish imaginable known to mankind except the ability to actually be good at his craft. I’m not even requesting that the man be a great filmmaker. No. Tyler Perry isn’t even on the level of Brett Ratner, who solidly stands on a pedestal about as tall as Napoleon Bonaparte. The inability to learn from one’s mistakes is shockingly appalling to me. It’s disgusting. Not only that, but the Tyler Perry school of filmmaking is becoming an epidemic of crude proportions. Let’s get into it.
Good Deeds is about an extremely predictable corporate CEO, Wesley Deeds, that has a mind changing experience upon meeting and beginning a friendly correspondence with the down and out female custodian of his company. She changes his life. He changes her life. That old Disney fairytale. I don’t really know where to start with this movie. I actually believe Tyler may have fatigued his narrative sense with this outing. He starts his film with a humongous hammer in hand and proceeds to hit you over the head. Wesley Deeds, played by Perry, gets dressed in the steamy, soft focus background of the frame as Deeds’ fiance, Natalie played blandly by Gabrielle Union, stands in the foreground and lists off every single bit of dialogue that Deeds is sure to say. Perry wants you to know that Wesley Deeds has fallen into a monotonous life without keying in on his own petrifying boredom. Yet, Natalie seems totally complacent with her dull lover. She doesn’t try to get him to be spontaneous. She is played as the fun loving, party girl with a professional career. Tyler wanted her to be three-dimensional. Able to let loose and let out, while still maintaining a sense of responsibility and financial independence. On the other side of the fence, there is Lindsey Wakefield, played by Thandie Newton. Once again, Tyler creates and Thandie plays a character whose life is completely unraveling in a two hour movie. The first time we see Lindsey, she is unable to pay her rent. She can’t get her daughter to school on time. She can’t make it to work on time. IRS has seized a significant portion of her income. She has no family. No friends whatsoever. To the point where there is no one on Earth that can babysit her daughter so she must in turn lock her daughter in the equipment closet while she works the night shift. She is thrown out of her apartment. She and said daughter live out of her van. She talks her way into a shelter. Even at that low point, there is a swift attempted rape scene that flies in then flies out quicker than NYPD. That’s the pure reason you should care about this character. That and the fact that Thandie Newton spends 90 percent of her screen time in frowns and tears. How can you not sympathize with this impoverished single mother? You couldn’t be a good Christian if you didn’t do so.
Even though Thandie’s character wore me out with a torrent of tears, she was really the only person on screen that made sense. If you exclude the young daughter who looked about as dull as her performance. The thing about Tyler Perry is that he refuses to play a character of any moral deficiency if he’s not masquerading with a dress on. That’s cool if you want to play side characters, but now Perry has filled the shoes of the leading man. And a one note leading man he is. Wesley Deeds is the good guy from the start. Even when presented with a luring opportunity to be with Lindsey, Deeds is truly concerned with doing good things. Tyler Perry still has no grappling on creating full arcs for his characters. Point A for Wesley Deeds is that he is wrapped inside of himself. Point B is that he has sprouted like a butterfly. There is no real solid journey between the two points. Somehow, through a couple of scenes where Natalie discovers who Lindsey is, Deeds decides to change the angle of his life. It is not very clear how Lindsey has shaped his new outlook on doing what he really wants to do. Who knew Deeds had it in him to start dressing casually and listen to rap music? That is the ultimate change in Wesley Deeds. Not that he is giving his all to support this new woman in his life. Hell, he had been gracious to her from the beginning. I thought this would be a movie about moral rehabilitation. No, Wesley Deeds has always been the nicest person in the movie. He refuses to even commit an act of unfaithfulness. He is fully attracted to Lindsey but will not dare cheat on his wife. That’s great and all but why am I watching you? There is all of this tension built around this new woman and nothing ever happened. Deeds’ wife thinks the man has been unfaithful. Deeds’ mother, played by Phylicia Rashad, makes things uncomfortable with Lindsey by intimidating her and degrading her in front of a party of people, including Deeds, Natalie and Deeds’ brother, Walter. All of this for no cheating? Really? He hadn’t even kissed her. She kissed him and he explained how engaged he was.
I want to take a side bar here to say that Brian White gives a HORRENDOUS performance as Walter Deeds. I can’t blame him because the character that Perry created is off the damn chain. He was angry from the moment of introduction. Angry Black man. That is the only way I could make sense of it because there was no cause for such aggression. Yeah, Walter is dealing with an inner demon of desiring to run his father’s company over Wesley. But why so angry? He’s angry at the world. He’s disrespectful toward women. Actually, he’s repugnant towards women. There’s one scene where he makes a move to hit his own mother before falling to the restraint of Wesley. For some reason, no one will let him drive himself around. He may be an alcoholic. That’s not very clear. It’s just an awfully written character played with a subpar performance. It’s…bad.
Now, let’s talk about Lindsey Wakefield. If you think the Academy Awards is single-handedly destroying the image of the Black woman, think again. Lindsey does NOTHING to help her cause. She simply struggles her way through half of the movie. Her character makes decisions to move laterally. For some reason unbeknownst to me, Wesley Deeds comes to her undying aid and swoops her to safety. He is the CEO of his company and the custodian of his company belittles him during their first couple of interactions. She refuses to move from his parking space. She calls him names. When he discovers that this vulgar woman is employed by him, there is nothing done. He doesn’t lift a finger. He is actually humored that someone spoke to him in that manner. This guy isn’t the President of the United States. He owns a software company. What does Tyler mean by making him some all powerful character that no one comes out of their face to express some dissatisfaction for? Outside of that, he sees she is going through a lot and he can’t stop himself from saving her life. He doesn’t even want anything. He doesn’t even fall for her. She falls for him then he realizes his own attraction. She does nothing to improve her situation. He supplies her with housing. He supplies her with daycare. He supplies her with hope. And by the end of the movie, she is still the custodian but he provides a dream for her. He offers to take her to another country. All expense paid. All this woman in Good Deeds had to do was cry and struggle like many other Americans in life. That is all. There was no arc for her. There was a declining journey that only ended by Wesley Deeds saying, “Hey baby. Come to Africa.” End of movie. If there is no Black woman that is disrespected by this dynamic then I feel disrespected for you.
This is a very soapy film. There is nothing interesting about it. There is no chemistry in it. I never want to see a Tyler Perry/Gabrielle Union pairing again. The two have an awful sex scene in which they both appear fully clothed. Tyler Perry is too worried about his image to create anything inspiring. He wants you to believe that he’s relatable, and he used to be. Wesley Deeds isn’t familiar with 2Pac until Lindsey plays some songs for him? I mean, come on. Some things I can forgive. And then some things…my friend Keith Davis put it best while critiquing a project I did. This was an extremely sobering comment. He said, “Don, you are disrespecting my suspension of belief and I can’t appreciate that.” Tyler Perry makes movies like he’s the richest man in Hollywood. He does whatever the Hell he wants and it’s your sole responsibility to accept his choices. I’ll analyze the end of the movie for example. Late spoiler alert. Deeds decides to give up the family business and follow his dream, which happens to be traveling all over Africa. The worst, most cliche dream in film history. Africa? Really? Shut up. The real Wesley Deeds hasn’t thought about Africa a day in his life. If you are an American CEO making a lifetime achievement’s worth of wealth, my senses tell me that you aren’t into anything that supports the good Africans. Back to the story. Upon making this decision, Deeds presents Lindsey with two tickets for her and her daughter to join him in Africa. This is done with Thandie Newton in a closeup with a continent of Africa earring in her ear. Only one though. The other ear has a hoop. Of course, Lindsey does not accept the offer. What does that mean ladies and gentlemen? That we will most definitely see Lindsey and her daughter on that plane to Africa. This is an ancient narrative device that is no longer considered unpredictable. Where does Tyler disrespect our suspension of belief? Deeds waits by the gate of the hanger to see if Lindsey will show up for the flight. Rather, He anxiously awaits. He sees someone. Is it Lindsey? No. It is his mother come to say goodbye. Her last goodbye in a tearful scene as if Wesley Deeds is flying off to war. The Negro is only going to ride a Harley Davidson along the Nile. Not that serious. In fact, how in God’s name did you get past gate security, Mom? Don’t you need at least three forms of I.D. along with an actual boarding pass to be there? I’ll overlook that, maybe. Deeds gives up. Lindsey is a no show. He boards the plane, places his bag in the overhead and hears an angelic voice. Who’s is it? Lindsey has somehow miraculously boarded this plane without him seeing her. See, I thought everyone lines up in this small space with rows of seats as zone numbers are called to board flights? I thought that if someone is a no show, a clerk at the gate calls that person’s name fifty times before realizing that ticket will not be used? I thought that Deeds is so desperate to see Lindsey, that there is no way he would be the absolute last person to reach that gate, then have time to sit and wait for someone as he IS the absolute last person to board this plane? And Lindsey looks GREAT. Her daughter looks GREAT. Nails done. Hair done. Everything did. Now, she all of a sudden has money for this? From my memory, good ole Mr. Deeds only afforded her an all expense paid corporate apartment all for the sake of being a good person. He never gave her money. He never gave her a raise. IRS is still dipping into that check, Papi. Get your plot holes in check.
This movie is a joke. I cannot begin to give the story a pass. I cannot give the performances a pass. I cannot give Tyler Perry a pass. Yes, he provides Black performers with work but they are ruining their careers with him. I could take meat infested with Salmonella and give it to the homeless but is that really going to help the cause? Everyone gives a bad performance in this film. Thandie Newton gives an awful performance every time Tyler says action. I’ve seen her give a good performance. She has it in her, but not with him. I’ve seen Brian White do better. Phylicia Rashad is an idol but Perry disgraces talent. Gabrielle Union…well, yeah. This is officially the last Tyler Perry movie that I will see until the man is nominated for an Oscar. Point blank. I understand that critiques are subjective and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I have a problem with the taste of anyone that found this film invigorating. Tyler Perry is a filmmaker that disrespects his viewing audience. He doesn’t believe in your intelligence. He does not take heed of what you are willing to accept. He is only here to deliver his personal catechism to a screen near you. This movie has no heart. It has no taste. It has no soul. It has NO TALENT.