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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Diary’ should be kept under lock and key

“Diary of a Mad Black Woman”

Lion’s Gate Studios

Directed by Darren Grant

Screenplay by Tyler Perry

Starring Kimberly Elise, Steve Harris, Shemar Moore and Tyler Perry

Rated PG-13/126 min

Opened Feb. 25, 2005

One out of four stars

“Diary of Mad Black Woman” is a sloppy, contrived, melodramatic mess made out of misshapen parts-think Frankenstein’s monster for the BET generation. Not content with failing as one movie, it fails as several: romantic-comedy, courtroom thriller, woman-in-jeopardy, ribald comedy…name the ball, this movie drops it.

“Diary of a Mad Black Woman” tells the story of Helen (Kimberly Elise), a pampered wife married to Charles (Steve Harris), a wealthy attorney. On their 18th anniversary, Charles decides to call it quits-he presents his wife with his new floozy, packs up Helen’s things and tosses her out of the house.

Oh yes, Charles is very, very bad in a hulking, “Lifetime Original” kind of way. The writing here is about on sentimental par with one of those shows-maybe less.

With no where else to go, Helen moves in with Grandma Madea, played in drag by the movie’s screenwriter Tyler Perry at the lowest level of the comedy standard. It’s like we’ve left “Diary” and walked into Big Mama’s Duplex.

The tonal shift is staggering. Having soaked in a lukewarm bath of mediocre melodrama, the movie leaves the pool and runs screaming naked into a cold night of deep-fried hamminess and fart jokes.

It’s a toss-up between which is more painful to watch: the bland pseudo-serious relationship story, or the wacky antics of the grandparents.

Grandma Madea schools Helen in the ways of “the angry black woman.” They invade Charles’ house, tear up some clothes and take a chainsaw to the furniture.

The rest of the movie putts along predictably. Helen meets Orlando (Shemar Moore), a guy so sweet he’ll have diabetics in the audience foaming at the mouth.

Is Helen too angry to give Orlando a chance? Will Charles have a change of heart and butt in?

Does a pirate go “ARRR!” and wear a parrot on his shoulder?

“Diary of a Mad Black Woman” does have one laudable quality-Kimberly Elise is luminescent as Helen. Somehow she’s able to navigate her character through all the dopey twists of the plot relatively unscathed.

She’s cute as a button at the beginning and convincingly scorned at the end. Too bad the material is so unworthy of her beauty and talent.

There will be people who defend this film by claiming it caters to a specific demographic and shouldn’t be held to the same standards as more mainstream fare.

That’s just stupid.

Everyone deserves a better movie than this.

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