By Darlene Donloe
In Good Deeds, his latest film, Tyler Perry plays Wesley Deeds, a stiff, predictable, by-the-book businessman, who is going through a bit of a mid-life crisis. He has always done what is expected of him, which makes him, uh, pretty boring.
He’s one of those guys who has the same thing for breakfast in the morning, literally, every day!!!
TYLER PERRY & GABRIELLE UNION
Although he is rich, has a successful business and a beautiful fiancée named Natalie, played by Gabrielle Union, he is clearly unhappy. The couple, who look good on paper, is completely bored with their relationship!
However, the tide turns when this “fifth-generation Ivy League graduate” meets and befriends Lindsey, a janitor in his office building, played by the beautiful Thandie Newton.
THANDIE NEWTON & JORDENN THOMPSON
Lindsey, a single mother, is going through a bit of a crisis herself. She’s just been evicted from her apartment and with nowhere to go and no family to turn to, she and her daughter live in her van. And when it's time for her to go to work, she brings her daughter along and has her sleep on the floor of a utility closet while she goes about cleaning the offices.
After Deeds discovers her secret, he takes her on as a project and tries to help her get on her feet, much to the chagrin of his family members.
TYLER PERRY & BRIAN WHITE
If dealing with Lindsey was not enough, he must also deal with his brother, Walt, played by Brian White and his overbearing, snooty mother, played by Phylicia Rashad.
Walt has a huge chip on his shoulder because he feels his birthright has been stomped on by both his mother and his brother. Convinced he could run his father’s company as well as his brother, Walt lashes out at everyone who comes in his path.
Tyler Perry wrote and directed this drama. Once again he fills the dialogue with syrupy, melodramatic prose and, of course, various life lessons. It's clear that by helping Lindsey, Wesley sees a path for getting his own life together. Tired of living his life for everyone else but himself, Wesley sets out to change his circumstances. However, in the process he allows his emotions to take hold.
Is it me, or does this movie look like a black version of Pretty Woman? Maybe it’s just me.
Thandie Newton shines in this drama. She’s probably also the best looking janitor to ever appear on celluloid. But, the real question is, why isn’t her character modeling for Vogue? Seriously! It's never really made clear why she's working as a janitor and what has been keeping her from achieving her full potential.
Phylicia Rashad is competent as Wilimena, although she doesn’t have much to do. She’s convincing as a powerful matriarch. She is deviously delicious when she gives those I-will-knock-you-into-next-week "momma looks." This mother knows exactly how to push her children’s buttons. With lines like, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?,” she’s sinfully sinful.
Brian White is over the top. The problem is, he starts there – leaving him nowhere else to go. His character needs to be flushed out a bit more so that we understand his angst toward the world. Gabrielle Union is, well, Gabrielle Union. She’s played the same character in several movies now. She's the girlfriend. There's no room for her to stretch in this film. She's pretty much window dressing.
And then there is Tyler Perry. He loves writing, directing and starring in his movies. The storyline is fine, albeit a bit contrived. However, Perry looks completely uncomfortable in a suit and tie. Maybe it’s because he’s been seen in a dress as Madea for so many years.
The direction is adequate, but Perry would be wise to take a few acting lessons. Newton and Rashad carry the movie. That being said, this is one of Perry's better efforts!
Good Deeds stars Perry, Newton White, Rashad, Union, Rebecca Romijn, Eddie Cibrian, and Jordenn Thompson.
On the Donloe Scale, D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (Outstanding) and E (exquisite), “Good Deeds” gets an O (OK).
Good Deeds (Lionsgate), currently in theaters, is rated PG-13. Running time: 111 min.
Opened: Feb. 24
Production: Lionsgate, Tyler Perry Studios
Director/screenwriter: Tyler Perry
Producers: Tyler Perry, Ozzie Areu, Paul Hall
Executive producers: Joseph P. Genier, Michael Paseornek