Ahead of the release of The Single Moms Club, a film written, directed, produced by and starring Tyler Perry, we thought it was worthwhile looking back on all the Tyler Perry Productions (TPP) that came before it. In total, Perry has produced 16 films (including SMC) from the ongoing Madea franchise to stand-alones, such as Temptation and Why Did I Get Married? All of the films have been met with varying degrees of praise and success. But who has actually sat down and watched all of them? Inspired by that question, I decided to review all of Perry’s film in order to grade and rank each film.
To see how they fall in order (from worst to best), flip through the gallery above. For a more in-depth, critical analysis keep on reading!
(Warning: The films were not watched in order of release. In fact, if watched in order of release there was clearly a thread among the Madea movies and a noticeable uptick in writing and production by Perry.)
I Can Do Bad All By Myself (2009)
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Adam Rodriguez, Mary J. Blige, Gladys Knight, Tyler Perry
When starting the Tyler Perrython, I debated going in order of when each TPP came out in theaters but opted to dive somewhere in the middle. That and Netflix was streaming only a handful of films. A Taraji P. Henson-led film seemed like the best place to start.
Henson played a single-note alcoholic who was forced to take her niece and nephews in after the disappearance of their grandmother. What’s unclear was what happened to the sister (the mom), the grandmother (who later died) or how the kids end up at Madea’s house. But they did and the movie kept on going. Alex Rodriguez also moved in and Mary J. Blige and Gladys Knight showed up to sing some songs.
The best scene in this movie was when Henson’s character threatens to electrocute her no-good boyfriend by slowly dropping a radio into his bath. It truly was inspired and gasp-worthy as hell.
Madea’s Witness Protection (2012)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy, Denise Richards, Romeo Miller, Doris Roberts
I was excited to discover Denise Richards was part of the cast so I started Google Image searching “Denise Richards,” which led me down a rabbit hole. Eventually I searched for her most iconic role. No, not her turn as a nuclear physicist in The World Is Not Enough, but Carmen in Starship Troopers. Anyway, the search resulted in a gem of a photo of Neil Patrick Harris as Carl and considering what he looks like on the current issue of Out magazine, it does get better.
Grade: D minus E-N-I-S-E
Madea Goes to Jail (2009)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Keshia Knight Pulliam (aka Rudy Huxtable!!!!), Derek Luke, Ion Overman, Viola Davis, Sofía Vergara
I fell asleep after ten minutes. No time to re-watch. According to Wikipedia, Ion Overman’s character “did it.” Fun fact: Perry followed his turn as Madea with that role in Star Trek, easily the best film he has ever starred in.
Grade: No grade.
Good Deeds (2012)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Thandie Newton, Brian White, Rebecca Romijn, Jamie Kennedy, Phylicia Rashad, Gabrielle Union
For as much as I wanted to dislike Thandie Newton in this film, I found myself drawn into her. But I also became increasingly angry. I wanted to get her agent on the phone and conduct career rehab. The actress deserves so much better than the roles she gets. 2012 anyone? I really love sexy, fierce and powerful Newton. Just throwing this out there but I would love to see her in a James Bond flick. She could have done wonders with the past two films.
Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013)
First you have to watch the trailer. It is ah-mazing.
The best things about this film were Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Williams’ French accent and Brandy’s strange plot twist.
Apparently, Brandy’s character Karen’s abusive ex-boyfriend was Harley, who seduced and corrupted Judith (a girl working at a matchmaking service but dreamed of starting her own marriage counseling practice), gave Karen HIV after having unprotected sex while sleeping around with other women. The reveal was terrible, dramatic and by far the most unexpected plot-twist in a Tyler Perry production.
(END OF SPOILER ALERT)
With that said, I leave you with the greatest words of wisdom uttered by Ava (Kardashian), the Whitney Port of the movie:
- We have over a billion dollars walking in and out of these offices looking for love, and we have a standard to uphold.
- A degree on the wall, without labels on your back, is nothing.
- You really need an iron to that skirt.
- You don’t breathe in Hervé.
- You have to make a man remember you.
Grade: C+, bonus points for Kim Kardashian
For Colored Girls (2010)
Starring: Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington, Tessa Thompson
This film was adapted from the landmark, 1975 play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. In short, the play told the stories of nine interconnected women dealing and exploring struggles in their lives, such as rape, abortion and domestic violence.
Perry should be applauded for trying to tell the story on the big screen but he failed to properly adapt the play for modern times. The film quickly became a parody of itself with Macy Gray playing a back alley abortionist in a 2010-version west Harlem. (Gray’s film choices have been so bizarre. Anyone remember her masturbating in Zac Efron’s room in The Paperboy?)
However, the women, including Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise and Anika Noni Rose, did a great job in the film. And props to Thandie Newton for serving up some Rosie Perez realness.
Grade: B- , it’s best summed up by Roger Ebert: The “actors do an effective job with their soliloquies, but the audience is tugged back and forth between the stylized speech and the straight dramatic material.”
Following For Colored Girls, my roommate officially bowed out of the Tyler Perrython. “That’s the last Tyler Perry movie you make me watch,” he said. Little did he know, he would watch three more.
The Family That Preys (2008)
Starring: Alfre Woodard, Kathy Bates, Sanaa Lathan, Taraji P. Henson, Cole Hauser, Robin Givens, KaDee Strickland, Tyler Perry
While there was a story about a family company and the boss sleeping with his employee, the real movie belonged Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard’s remake of Thelma & Louise. Their road trip was cut too short when it’s revealed the Bates’ character has Alzheimer’s disease. It was a tragic twist of writing. (Damn those Perryisms.) Perry really should have written a female-driven, buddy comedy with these two fine, award-winning actresses.
Grade: B+ for Bates and Woodard’s road trip, D for the other parts
Meanwhile, I finally hit my wall. What started off like:
Had turned into:
After my friend told me Why Did I Get Married? was actually good, I powered through. And to my surprise, he was right.
Why Did I Get Married? (2007)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, Malik Yoba, Sharon Leal, Tasha Smith, Michael Jai White, Richard T. Jones
Perry gathered together a strong cast of female actors and trusted them to act. Jill Scott and Tasha Smith were easily the best. While both approached their roles with different styles (Scott, reserved yet emoting through the fat suit, while Smith went for wild and funny), they succeeded in making their characters extremely likable.
While the film suffered from Perry’s own Perryims (a third act twist of drama — noticing a trend?), the dinner scene in the log cabin was truly inspired. It’s like Oprah Winfrey meets Quentin Tarantino. The conversation between all eight characters started cheerily enough and then spiraled into a series of exposed secrets. After everything was out on the table, Sheila (Scott) ended dinner with a wine bottle fiercely whacked over Mike’s (Richard T. Jones) head. It was the perfect culmination of silent anger boiling up inside of her and us.
Why Did I Get Married Too? (2010)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, Malik Yoba, Sharon Leal, Tasha Smith, Michael Jai White, Richard T. Jones, Cicely Tyson
This should have been called Tyler Perry Presents Couples Retreat II aka Why Did I Get Married: Third Time’s a Charm. Perry ruined a great franchise with a bunch of unnecessary Perryisms.
Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
Starring: Kimberly Elise, Steve Harris, Shemar Moore, Tamara Taylor, Tiffany Evans, Cicely Tyson, Tyler Perry
I first watched this movie in college after a long night out when TBS offered the best hangover cures: movie marathons. This one came on a few times. I first saw the last half and then later the first half. This story, while not important, is a true story and I felt like sharing. But the point is, I liked it. Solid B-List movie.
(I identified with this GIF so much at this point.)
Madea’s Family Reunion (2006)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Blair Underwood, Lynn Whitfield, Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Jenifer Lewis, Rochelle Aytes, Boris Kodjoe, Keke Palmer (you may know her as Chili from the CrazySexyCool: The TLC Movie)
Again this was another film I watched in college and like Diary, it benefited from being one of the first two films that exposed Madea (and Perry) to a mainstream audience. The “sequel” was a nice transition into the Madea franchise for the uninformed.
Daddy’s Little Girls (2007)
Starring: Gabrielle Union, Idris Elba, Louis Gossett, Jr., Tracee Ellis Ross
Idris Elba deserved so much better than this. While not a complete mess, it suffered from too many plots that took away from the main one: Gabrielle Union as a sexless, harden lawyer looking (but not looking) for love who gets set up with Elba, a “rough around the edges” driver with a heart of gold and penchant for whistling. Sounds like a gold mine of a Rom-Com right? I mean Sandra Bullock has made a version of this a few dozen times.
Meet the Browns (2008)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Angela Bassett, Rick Fox, Tamela Mann, Jenifer Lewis, Sofía Vergara
My favorite part was when Angela Bassett and her children arrive and the family asked her where she’s from. “Chicago,” she responded. “CHICAGO?!” one of the family members replied. Yes, Chicago… That special moment was brought to you by RuPaul’s Drag Race season 2 contestant Mystique.
Oh, and total side note, do you remember when Penny (from Happy Endings) wore Angela Bassett’s new line of flowy pants, Bassett by Angela for Angela Bassett? Gosh, I wish those were real. I could have used them during this marathon.
Madea’s Big Happy Family (2011)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Loretta Devine, Shad “Bow Wow” Moss
The title and film poster were totally misleading. I looked at this film as a fun, Brady Bunch-like tail of a family coming together at the behest of Loretta Devine, the film’s matriarch. Instead, this movie turned out to be Perry’s version of The Family Stone. The impact of Devine’s cancer was lost in all the Murray Povich bits.
Also, my roommate spotted the Old Spice guy. Apparently, his name is Isaiah Mustafa. He played Calvin in the movie but all I could think about was his shirtless ads.
A Madea Christmas (2013)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Anna Maria Horsford, Larry the Cable Guy, Chad Michael Murray, Tika Sumpter, Eric Lively, Alicia Witt, Lisa Whelchel, Kathy Najimy, Sweet Brown
Most Christmas films are awful. Most Christmas edition of franchise films are even worse. Add Madea and you get this:
Left off the list of TPPs: Precious (Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire) — not really a TPP, Tyler Perry Presents Peeples, which is more of Perry lending his name to help sell the movie and The Single Moms Club, a TPP starring Cocoa Brown, who talked to VH1 about working with Perry. (She clearly is a goddess among men.)
[Photos: Lionsgate, Getty, GIFs: Tumblr]