‘I Can Do Bad All By Myself’ review

Tyler Perry has built a small enterprise out of making morality dramas geared towards African-American audiences, and most of them are actually pretty good, given how corny ‘message movies’ can be. In his latest film, ‘I Can Do Bad All By Myself’, he sticks to his general formula: 1. Wounded/selfish/troubled character(s) meet each other, 2. They interact, overcoming their problems, 3. They learn lesson. There’s some good acting here, especially from recent Oscar-nominee Taraji P. Henson, but its way too uneven for us to follow.

The film concerns an alcoholic nightclub singer named April (‘Benjamin Button’s Taraji Henson, really good here) who after the death of their guardian, must raise her late sisters’ kids. Naturally her selfishness comes between her and the kids, and her abusive boyfriend creeps them out as well. But when she falls for a Colombian immigrant, it may be her wake-up call to just how messed-up she is. Mary J. Blige and Gladys Knight co-star, providing some comic relief, and some excellent musical performances.

It wants to be a comedy, melodrama, romance, and musical, jumping from genre to genre to genre every 5 minutes. Mind you, there’s some good parts to each category: It’s really funny at times, the acting is good enough to “sell” the drama, and the singers here are fantastic. But it’s a little odd when one minute a character is singing in a nightclub, the next that character tries to electocute another in a bathtub, the next minute shes on a date. It takes you out of the movie, and is really annoying. Also despite some great acting, some actors with really large roles are sub-par, such as the children in the film, and the love interest. The performances didn’t require that much, and they’re just…flat.

Perry’s intentions here are good, and like I mentioned earlier there’s some really good parts to this film. Too bad they’re too inconsistent to save it. C