Movie: Diary of a Mad Black Woman

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Our Rating: 2.00

If the posters have primed you for wicked fun with a gun-toting matron from the projects, be forewarned that writer/actor Tyler Perry's cross-dressing turn as same only accounts for a meager portion of this cynical exercise in manipulation. The cheesed-off sister of the title is actually the younger Helen (Kimberly Elise), a long-suffering wife who's the only one surprised when she's unceremoniously booted from her kickin' crib of a mansion by her rat bastard husband (The Practice's Steve Harris). Running to mouthy grandma Madea (Perry) for comfort, Helen stumbles into a few brief but rib-tickling lessons in trash-mouthed empowerment that faux old bird Perry preaches through yesterday's eyeglass frames and reinforces with an appallingly shelflike bosom. But every time Madea exits the scene, we're stuck in a dreary revenge fantasy-cum-romance that's designed to exploit the perceived prejudices of the "black female audience." The movie isn't just schizophrenic, but out-and-out hypocritical: Perry's script veers from jokes about oldsters on weed and scenarios of violent anti-male retribution to declarations that forgiveness is the virtue we should all strive for. And how does one learn to forgive, pray tell? Why, through the healing power of JAY-sus, of course. Phooey.

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