Diary of a Mad Black Woman – DVD Review


Available at Amazon.com

Director:

Darren Grant

Starring:

Kimberly Elise ………. Helen
Steve Harris ………. Charles
Shemar Moore ………. Orlando
Tamara Taylor ………. Debrah
Cicely Tyson ………. Myrtle
Tyler Perry ………. Madea/Brian/Joe
Gary Anthony Sturgis ………. Jamison

The Movie

Tyler Perry made a name for himself mostly in Atlanta, Georgia, for producing popular plays on stage that featured African-Americans in moral quandaries. Some even might call Tyler Perry the “Eddie Murphy of the Stage” for his ability to play different characters in the same play; his most famous character is Mabel Simmons a.k.a. Madea. After conquering the stage, Tyler decided to try his hand at movies. His first attempt at a movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, became an unexpected hit at the box office and opened a lot more eyes to Tyler Perry’s work.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman centers on Helen McCarter (Kimberly Elise). Helen has everything a woman wants, including a nice house and a rich husband. That all changes when her husband, Charles (Steve Harris), throws her out of the house after admitting to an affair. A distraught Helen turns to her mother, grandmother Madea (Tyler Perry), and cousin Brian (Perry, again) who take her in and turn her back to God. Helen learns for the first time in her life to stand up on her own two feet and is ready to remove herself from her relationship with Charles and move on with a new guy she met named Orlando (Shemar Moore). But when her husband is almost killed by a vengeful client, Helen wonders if she has the heart to forgive him despite everything.

The main problem with this movie is that it’s all over the place. It doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s a drama at heart, but yet the Madea character gets thrown into the movie at random times for comic relief. You definitely need some comic relief in a drama, but the scenes that she appears in doesn’t flow with the rest of the movie. It’s almost like they shot this movie and just added in the Madea scenes afterwards. Madea is funny, but she just seems out of place with everyone else in the movie. The exception to that is Joe, which is just Tyler Perry as another character.

Another problem with this movie is that the drama seems over-the-top and forced at times. One scene that sticks out is the church scene towards the end of the movie. This is the first of three climaxes that occur in this movie. It’s an important scene, but it was done in such an over-the-top manner that it almost made it laughable and will have you shaking your head. Maybe that was the point of the scene, but it just seems like Tyler Perry was trying to force this scene down our throats after we had gotten the point of the scene already.

The movie is not all bad, though; it has a positive message at its heart. Redemption is the central theme. Revenge is nice, but sometimes forgiveness can be a lot nicer. So you can learn a lot from this movie and most of the acting is pretty solid throughout. Steve Harris and Shemar Moore are both good in their roles. However, Kimberly Elise is just okay as the main female star. She does the best with what she is given and is excellent in the dramatic roles, but her character is too inconsistent as it wavers back and forth throughout the movie. Kimberly also seems to be very awkward on the screen next to Madea in certain scenes, but that’s mainly because Madea steals every scene she is in and provides the highlights for this movie. You can’t fault her for that, but one wonders if another actress could have pulled off this role a little better. Steve Harris plays an awesome bad guy, though, and Shemar Moore performs his “soap opera” role to perfection. The actor that probably deserves the most credit, though, is Tyler Perry himself. He plays three characters and they really are all fantastic.

Tyler Perry’s first big-screen movie is a mixed bag. Diary of a Mad Black Woman shows that he can write a good story with a great message that everyone can learn from, but his execution had some flaws. Most of the time this movie acts as a drama, but then there are scenes of comedy thrown in just to have comedy and lighten the mood. In the end, though, these really distract from the main story and plot in the movie. Tyler tried to throw everything he was known for in the same movie, but it really hurt the final product. Despite the success at the box office, this movie really remains in “cult classic” status. There are some that will absolutely love this movie and get it, while there will be others that just don’t get it at all and hate it.

The Video:

The video is given in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The video was “upgraded” for this special edition DVD release. That basically means it was made for widescreen television sets to get more of a theatrical feel. It’s really pretty standard for any new release these days.

The Audio:

The audio included has been newly remastered in English 6.1 DTS-ES sound, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX sound, and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. There are subtitles available in English and Spanish as well. No problems real problems here either. Again, the audio has been “upgraded” to a more high-tech type of sound. It is comparable to newer DVD releases, but it’s nice that they put a little something extra in this department.

The Extras:

Audio Commentaries
There are two audio commentaries included here. One features just Tyler Perry. The other features the director, Darren Grant, and lead actress, Kimberly Elise. Both are fairly interesting and informative. It’s nice to hear different prospectives from the main people involved with the film. About as you good as you could expect.

“The ATL” Featurette
This featurette is all about Atlanta, Georgia where Tyler Perry grew up and shot this movie. Basically, Atlanta is now known as the “New Hollywood of the South”. Apparently a lot of movies are being filmed here and you can really start a career in acting in Atlanta now as opposed to going to New York City or Los Angeles. This goes on for a long time and talks about other things, but that’s the main focus.

“The Real Mad Black Women” Featurette
This is interesting. They take 11 real mad black women and 1 mad “black” white woman and have them comment on scenes in the film in a room together. They tell us what they would have done

“Reflections on Diary” Featurette
This is a short featurette with basically thoughts on the movie from Tyler Perry. He tells us what the movie is really all about. Once you get past this feature, you start to notice some overlap. So this is still pretty informative.

“Making of Diary of a Mad Black Woman” Featurette
This where overlap begins to start. Some of the stuff mentioned in this featurette can be heard in “The ATL” featurette, oddly enough. But this does give more information on the making of the movie, though.

“Who’s Tyler Perry?” Featurette
Various people including Tyler Perry and others in the movie talk about Tyler Perry and his plays and movies. Tyler Perry plays four people in this featurette. He plays himself. Then he plays the three characters in the movie, Brian, Joe, and Madea. This is very short compared to other featurettes.

“Tyler Perry Spotlight” Featurette
This basically the extended featurette of the “Who’s Tyler Perry” featurette. You pretty much hear the same stuff as you did in the previous featurette, but this runs about 10 minutes longer so more information is given here.

Music Montages
They take 5 songs from the movie and play them with various images from the movie being flashed up onto the screen as the songs play in the background. If you want to hear more of the music in this movie, then this is pretty good. But other than that, you can see the same stuff in the movie.

Outtakes
This is basically people messing up their lines or Madea just adding to the lines that were written and just making stuff up as she goes. It’s fairly funny, but it could have been a lot funnier.

Deleted Scenes
These scenes basically added depth to some of the surrounding characters in the movie. They were cut for time reasons more than likely and really they don’t add much to the overall movie.

Photo Gallery
Your standard feature here. You can look at single images from the movie, one after another.

THE INSIDE PULSE

This is really not that great of an introduction to Tyler Perry. If you want to see the character of Madea, you’ll probably be disappointed as the focus of this movie is the character of Helen. Madea does steal the scenes she is in, but she is not the center of this movie. I can only really recommend buying this movie for hardcore Tyler Perry fans, who have seen his work before. If you are new to him, you might want to rent it first to see if you like his work or not. However, I wouldn’t judge Tyler Perry on this movie alone as it’s really a mishmash of different things.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Diary of a Mad Black Woman
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

5
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

8
REPLAY VALUE

5
OVERALL
6
(NOT AN AVERAGE)