Daddy's Little Girls **
Directed by Tyler Perry
Written by Tyler Perry
Gabrielle Union as Julia
Idris Elba as Monty
Louis Gossett Jr. as Willie
Tasha Smith as Jennifer
Tracee Ellis Ross as Cynthia
Malinda Williams as Maya
Terri J. Vaughn as Brenda
95 Minutes(Rated PG-13 for thematic material, drug and sexual content, some violence and language.)
Back in 2005, hit play director Tyler Perry released a film version of his cross-dressing character, the gun-toting, loud, wise grandma Madea. The film came out at the end of February, on a weekend that people do not generally go out for the movies, and in a surprise victory, "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" grossed over twenty million dollars in its first three days. Since then we've been given an annual Perry, and in the one last year he decided to direct "Madea's Family Reunion," and now this year with "Daddy's Little Girls." They've all come out at about the same time every year, and they all haven't been very good. I've seen Tyler Perry on talk shows and interviews, and he seems like a generally nice good. Just a friendly, church going, ethical man, and it's obvious that he is because he fills his stories with characters just like him, and then characters that are the complete opposite. Perry is not a talented film maker or even a talented writer. His characters seem like characters for children, and his stories are stuff that we've seen before. His bad guys are over the top bad, the actors he puts are over the top acting, and the music he puts is often so loud and eye rolling that you hear better music on a daytime soap opera. "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" had it's moments, but it took more than stamina to sit through "Madea's Family Reunion." If there could be anything positive about this film it's that it's a notch about both of the two previous works, and maybe it's a sign of the future. Maybe Tyler Perry will get better. I just can't stand not liking his work-he's so damn friendly.
"Daddy's Little Girls" is about Monty, a down on his luck mechanic who is trying to save enough money to buy the shop from it's owner. At the same time he tries to visit his three daughters as much as possible. He can't raise them on his own, so he allows his mother in law to take care of them. However, she is dying of lung cancer, and Monty doesn't think that he could have the girls live with him. He doesn't have the space or the money, and he certainly doesn't want them to live with their mother, the horrible Cynthia who dates the five time convicted drug dealer boyfriend of her who has never spent a day in jail. Monty takes a job as the driver to Julia, a hot shot lawyer who has never lost a case, and who can't find anything nice to say. When there is an emergency with his kids, Monty is forced to drive to the hospital while she complains in the backseat. It turns out that there was a fire, and since Monty has been convicted in the past this is like a third strike, and the girls are sent to live with their mother and her boyfriend. Monty is horrified, and after being fired by Julia as her driver, he tries to enlist her as his lawyer. Julia is a little reluctant at first, but then once she realizes Monty's passion for his kids she decides to help him free of charge. And it isn't long before she starts to fall for him, much to the dismay of her two friends who doesn't want to see someone of her high social class dating a simple mechanic. Because that would be terrible. . .
The problem with Perry is that he treats his audience like children. His characters are either over the top good or over the top bad, with no in between. It seems like Monty can do no wrong. and every other guy is simply a fool-and this is highlighted during some of Julia's blind dates. One being a rude rapper wannabe, and the other being a married man. The bad guys are over the top as well, with Monty's ex-wife Cynthia being cruel, hitting the children and forcing them to stay in the bedroom, as well as her drug dealer boyfriend who never wears any proper clothes, speaks proper English, and is just a bad guy. Perry also likes to employ faith in all of his films, and this one is no exception, with extended church scenes and the such. I can admire him for showcasing Black pride, and even giving a little bit of a historical aspect in all of his films. However, these scenes never seem to work in the viewpoint of the entire film, and when they were in "Madea's Family Reunion" they were just torture. Perry's films always work like extended soap operas, with characters that are neither real nor interesting. I knew exactly how everything would work in this film, as I did in the others. But at least Madea was a funny character, and she was somewhat the only thing keeping the first two films together.
The acting is saved generally by Gabrielle Union, who is pretty much the only actress here with a name. Everybody else is either trying to hard, or looks as if Perry picked them off the side of the road and asked if they wanted to be in a movie. Union is very good as shown in pretty much all the work she's done, and she somehow creates a second and third dimension for Julia, something that was probably not in the script. Tyler Perry means well, but he just needs to tone his films down, and create characters that are probably more true to life. It is important to also show humanity to the bad guys, even just a little bit. Making them as he does makes it impossible for them to even be around. I found it hard to believe that the girls mother and boyfriend make life so miserable for them, and they didn't even say this stuff in court. There is evidence here that Tyler Perry is getting better, and "Daddy's Little Girls" is tolerable, but horribly cliched and somewhat ridiculous, like his other work. Perry claims that he wants to write about real life situations and events, but he crosses that line and dives into exaggerated fiction. Perhaps his next film, which I'm assuming comes out next year, will be better. I somewhat look forward to the next venture, because I always hope that it will be better t han the next. Like I said, he's just too nice a guy to hate, but his work needs serious work. This is easily the best film of the three, but the other two didn't exactly raise the bar all that high. . .