Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tyler Perry's Good Deeds: how many of us don't know "real life"?

Good Deeds”, directed by Tyler Perry, from Lionsgate (and part of Perry’s franchise of TPS films), certainly plays the “social capital” card. Tyler plays Wesley Deeds, an African-American software venture capitalist who had benefited in the past from minority business grants, now running his enterprise from San Francisco.  (There really is or was a company like his, Mitchell Systems.  I would have had an offer from that company when moving back to DC in 1988.) Tyler, out of responsibility, has let his mentally unstable brother (Brian White) work for him (recalling a theme of a film reviewed here March 11), and trusts another man Mark (Jamie Kennedy) as his COO. 

One of his employees, a night-shift janitor, Lindsey (Thandie Newton) has run into hard times, getting evicted from her Mission District apartment, and having a confrontation with him over a parking space.   Lindsey has a six year old child Ariel (Jordenn Thompson), having been made a single mother by a vaguely described tragedy.  The film gets rather specific as to what life is like for the homeless. She is sometimes desperate and not willing to go out of bounds to protect her child. There is a line, early in the film, when she asks Wesley, "do you have kids?"  Nope.  "I thought so." 

Wesley starts to come out of his shell to help her.  He offers her a corporate apartment, but then it gets much more personal.

"Tyler Perry Studios" has become a brand for movies dealing with family issues, and the story lines seem surprisingly race-independent.  The storytelling technique is a bit stylized in a "Lifetime" manner. The plot reminds me of Charles Murrays' new book "Coming Apart" which I am reading now. 

The film makes one wonder, what happens if someone shows up on your doorstep? It’s happened.  Details – another time.  There is a film about this situation in a gay context “The Conrad Boys”, reviewed here Dec. 12, 2008.

The link for the film is here.  It is sometimes called "Tyler Perry's Good Deeds". 

I saw this at a late show at the AMC Courthouse in Arlington. That theater often closes earlier weeknights. It seemed like a private showing just for me.  (The same thing once happened there with "Kids in America".) 

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