Home Movies Tyler Perry’s New Movie Murdered by Critics–Two Weeks Early

Tyler Perry — multi tasking movie maker– has never been a critics’ darling. But still…

For some reason, two weeks ahead of schedule, the Hollywood trade papers decided to murder Perry’s new movie this morning.

Perry adapted Ntozake Shange‘s “For Colored Girls,” with an all star cast featuring Janet Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, and Thandie Newton. The original play was a string of poems that depicted the lives of black women in the 1970s.

The movie doesn’t open until November 5th–in two weeks– but still both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter published their reviews today. And they killed it. Kirk Honeycutt, the famed Reporter reviewer, called “For Colored Girls” — “a train wreck.”

The Variety reviewer didn’t like it, but no one can read that review since it’s behind a pay wall. He said it was a step back for Perry, but that it was also ambitious. But then he also said it very bad.

So much for awards attention, etc. But the question is, why go out so early just to kill this film? And, really, it’s the only film this Oscar season with black actors. Unlike last year, with “Precious,” this Oscar season is pretty much a white wedding. Even “The Social Network” casts a Latin American character with a British actor.

But the studio must have wanted early publicity. This week Perry appeared on “Oprah” in a quasi-psychiatric session that instead of promoting the movie, turned into an exploration of how he’d been abused as a child. It was terrible for Perry, and maybe helpful to those in the audience. But the oversharing didn’t do much to promote the movie per se.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
33 replies to this post
  1. Tyler Perry is a gifted christian man who just wants to bring healing to the black race through his wisdom and class. This man had been beaten, poor, lost, and depressed through most of his life and he had been blessed and of course there are going to be those people who aren’t going to want to see him successful or see him reach the top. I think for a black man to know women the way he does it such a gift in itself and it’s amazing. I love all of his movies, it so positive, funny, spiritual, and true. Not sex and sex and sex. May God just keep blessing him and never stop!

  2. Mr. Perry are you willing to mentor first time screen/play writers or accept and critic their work toward production in the future? If so let me know. I wrote a play like many others who contact you may have but when mailed it was returned – wrong address? Do you actually have an office that receives other peoples work of art – or do you only produce your own plays? Others deserve a chance at a break too. One of the signs of a true successful person or business is their willingness to duplicate themselves. Please respond. Thank you.

  3. for mr perry it’s a long time now im trying to get intoush with you . i know that you are the best person to talk to about my story as a nanny and housekeeper working in manhattan my story is real so please contact me thank you laura.

  4. Based on his previous movies, Perry adapting “For Colored Girls…” for the screen was entirely too ambitious and, unfortunately, comes at the expense of a great play.

    As a Black man, I’m not all that concerned with the portrayal of Black Men by Shange because, let’s face it, she didn’t exactly make this stuff out of nowhere. What I am concerned about is that Perry will reduce the significance and the appeal of the original piece of work.

    Like a previous poster stated, Kasi Lemmons would’ve embraced and given this play everything it deserved. However, as I stated at the start, Perry will infect his “same old, same old” into Shange’s work and … for lack of a better word … bastardize it.

    It’ll make money for sure, but, at the expense of REAL art, it’s simply not worth it.

  5. First principles: Movies are made to entertain and divert the viewing public. The movies that make the most money do that best. By that standard, Tyler Perry is a damned good film maker! All the Oscar talk, pro/con,reltating Perry and the film is being propagated by the chattering classes and blog readers like us. I’m not aware of any effort on Tyler Perry’s part to campaign for an Oscar. He’ll let the grosses speak for themselves.

  6. Rob, not only do I have the intelligence to formulate my own opinions, I have the right to express them without being called an idiot. You sound like one of those chitlin’ circuit, let’s all go to the theatre after we leave service and the buffet on Sunday to view the latest rendition of, “Please mama don’t take my man”, replete with hollering gospel singers, washed up tv actors and judgemental preaching instead of actual dialouge. The “the man have favor” gave you away. His movies make money but as I previously stated it’s not all about money. And critics, of whatever race, will never stop Black audiences from showing up at the box office when a Black film is relased no matter how inane. Case in point; Soul Plane. So, before you start slinging your non-essential, redundent opinion around, why don’t you read the play. Perhaps you will then have some insight as to why some of the women posters here have expressed their concerns about Perry and this particular work. And Oscar, really? HA!

  7. I see why critics have jobs-because of idiots like Ronnie By the Lake and Synthia. You aren’t intelligent enough to have your own opinion. The negative reviews are calculated to try and keep audiences and Oscar away. What they fail to realize is, that like him or not, the man have favor! That is why his movies make a ton of money when others do not.

    Mark40 grow up and stop being tacky. Why comment on something that you obviously know nothing about. Research the background of the movie before you state your opinion. It will help you to appear to somewhat intelligent. Lastly, racism will never die as long as people like you are around.

    For Colored Girls will bit a HUGE hit!

  8. I really hope this film is a good one- or there will be hell for Perry to pay- I was there,for the original- meaning- I saw the play off, then on broadway,I’ve met the playwright- i know some from the orig cast.
    It was called ‘a choreopoem’ back then. The problem I have is,most black woman have seen this play a ki-gillion times, somewhere, on local stages, college productions, theater groups, monologued and stage readings till the end of time-Enough !!!so the movie better be good -I will not care to see our black men being portray too negativly now- a lot of them – ‘got it’,, and some positive changes have been made- To freshen things up a bit,Tyler shud have included, women of other colors, hispanics, indians, etc.-

  9. dear Annette, i thought racism was dying. thank you for proving me wrong. if i could shed some light on the reviews on all of tyler perrys movies, race aside. tyler perry sucks.
    he just sucks.
    what a nice black stereotype, “ima write a movie, ima play all da parts in dat movie, ima make dat dough”
    tyler perry…………………….die in a fire.

    ps, try not to get your feellings hurt over the truth. theres plenty of white guys who suck too, charlie sheen, tom green, keanu reeves. (its not about race)
    you made it about race.

  10. has anyone even stopped to think how offensive the title of this movie is.
    if a white person used the word “colored” to describe a black person or was used in the title of a movie directed written and produced by a white person. the naacp would have a hayday.
    so i ask the world.
    i ask the african americans.
    what the f*ck?

  11. “…and those critics fail becuase the people this movie was made for (Black women) are going to show up at movie theaters acoss the country in groups to see this powerful film. No fat,old, white man is gonna tell Black woman about a movie named “For colored girls” go take a seat.”

    EXACTLY! I was thinking, why would I, as a Black woman, give a DAMN what a White publication and/or writer has to say about the movie. IT’S FOR “COLOURED GIRLS”!! It’s a movie based on a book by a Black woman, a film directed by a Black man, and it’s for BLACK FOLK.

    What whites think about the film has NO PLACE or relevance in my mind and holds NO WEIGHT in my decision to see the movie.

    The arrogance of white america is that they think they have the authority or right to tell Black folks what we should do, when we should do it, or why we do it. IT’S NOT YOUR PLACE, ARROGANT IDIOTS.

    Your people are so embarrassing and have no shame…a brazen, ignorant, war-mongering lot.

  12. Read the poem first, then see the movie. I plan on waiting for it to go to DVD. And for the person who thinks that this movie will be filled with positive images of African American women, clearly you haven’t read the poem. It’s powerful and horrible and sad and reedeming but mostly, in many cases, it depicts the truth of some Black women’s lives at that time from Shange’s perspective and that was 30 years ago. The message of hope is that most of the characters survive but they are all traumatized in some form and the film absolutely needed to be handled in a way to bring that message across. I don’t have see it to judge, Perry has a plethora of other works to compare this one to, sight unseen. And yeah, it will make money but that’s one of the problems plaguing our communites even more, 30 years later. It’s resulting in violence, exploitation and lack of respect for one another, particularily women. The love of money/status/fame trumps the love and capacity to care or respect one another.

  13. Hi to BSomers: Tyler Perry’s gender and his sexuality – whether he’s open or closeted about it or confused and isn’t sure about it – doesn’t necessarily prevent him from interpreting the choreo-poem of an African American woman exploring issues of race, politics, sexuality, femininity and relationships. It takes a highly artistic, sensitive, and talented WRITER and DIRECTOR to do this original piece successfully. Could be male, female, straight or gay; in the closet or out of the closet; African American or not. Remember what Spielberg did with The Color Purple. Who knew? We’ll have to come to our own conclusions after we see the film for ourselves.

  14. This movie will make more than 20 million on the first weekend and continue to soar during the holidays because of it’s powerful persuasive spiritual message ! Who cares about film critics

  15. Maybe Tyler Perry should come out of the closet first, make an “It Gets Better” video, and then try to direct a real film. “For Colored Girls” needed special handling and instead gets a Lifetime treatment with a dull cast.

  16. I think what we have here is another attempt to tear down the vision of an African American Producer/Director who makes films about African Americans and with African American Actors/Actresses. If we look back at Spike Lees work, he took African American out of the stereotypical roles, had a positive message for African Americans and didn’t rely on white Exects to bring his work to the big screen. I think Mr. Perry is on the right track, he’s bringing black film full circle, thinking outside of the box and creating a whole new generation of black films with positive messages and meaning. What “they” those same critics would prefer to see is the negative stereotypical films about African Americans that show African Aricans in this negative light, where we are seen as helpless, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, diseased and hopeless. We need to recognize and understand that when people who write for Variety and magazines like these, who have a say in putting their “Opinions” out there for others to feed off of, does nothing but control those who read their comments to be biased towards a film that they have not seen. In this case who dare this writer pan the film before seeing it. I disregard any implications of someone who writes these articles, to go on my merit and see films for myself, after all everyones taste is different. I suggest that every African American steer away from critics like this and go see the film, let it be a big turn out on opening days, because as history has shown, African Americans have lost touch with our heritage, and not being able to tell our stories, in our schools, in life because “they” don’t want us to have a story, or history. Case and point, our President after his term will be soon forgotten because they will make sure that he made no difference and his legacy was in vain. So we need to “own” who we are, love who we are and make sure “they” don’t forget who we are.

  17. No surprise here. When I found out that Perry was going to attempt to direct a work of this magnitude with his limited, coonish vision, I just sighed and asked myself; “Why?” It will be a box office draw and make lots of money during the opening but it is unfortunate for those who have never seen or read the play/poem that, this will be their introduction to one of the best and most enduring literary pieces written by a Black woman. Hopefully, the people who follow Perry’s dribble will be inspired to actually pick up a copy of the poem after viewing the movie. After Precious, I noticed an increase of folks reading and discussing the book Push from which the movie was based. When I saw Lee Daniels and Lenny Kravitz on Iconoclasts, Daniels spoke briefly about his involvement with For Colored Girls, I hoped that he was directing, there are no words to describe my level of disappointment when I found out that he was only producing the work. And I agree with the other poster, where are Kasi Lemmons or Julie Dash when we need them!

  18. Hi Sally in Chicago — IMDB lists Tyler Perry and Oprah as executive producers of “Precious.” Yes, I’m aware their backing mostly was used for marketing purposes and to access a larger audience.

  19. Tyler Perry knows his audience. He doesn’t need to show Hollywood anything – he built his own studio in Atlanta. I suppose he did For Colored Girls because he wanted to. It doesn’t matter if it’s not very good. It will make money – guaranteed.

  20. Critics all have agendas, I read Kirk H’s review of Rabbit Hole that hailed the actors but in one paragraph said the film was too focused on the grief and what did he call the film a failure. His review should give the film about 7 or 8 out of 10 but he called it a failure.

    This is Tyler Perry, the film may not win an Oscar but it may make him money.

  21. Much to early to rip up a movie.. I will not be making any judgments or opinions until I see it myself! I ‘am not surprised Hollywoods trying to rip it apart. Give me a break, Hollywoods never understood why TP has gone this far.

  22. This is too bad for Tyler Perry. I was hoping for the best! I wanted him to surprise people , and show Hollyweird he has the creative goods. It is just so rare for film actresses of color to get their hands on juicy and complex roles ( and award-worthy roles) that allow them to shine . Perry was inspired by the critical and commercial success of “Precious”, and he desires the critical -acclaim of a Spike Lee. I’m sure Tyler wanted to take a huge risk and push for something unique, daring, and artistic – but the end result is a misfire. I will give him credit for his risk-taking and having good intentions.

  23. Synthia, as I recall Perry wasn’t a producer of Precious. He didn’t have producing rights. He was a “sponsor” or spokes person and that was to get the general public behind the movie. He was no more producer than Oprah was.

  24. What I don’t get is this:
    1) the poem/play is 30 years old – what madness compelled him to make it NOW? Or did the author need a stash of cash because she’s experiencing med problems? As I recall this was a heartbreaking play about women and their difficulties with men primarily. Abortions, rape, all the sad things happening to black women.
    2) Why couldn’t one or a group of the black women starring compiled their cash and produced it? When are black women going to collaborate and start producing their own stuff?
    3) Where is Kasi Lemmons when we need her?

  25. I’m glad they panned the movie two weeks early. The delusions that this could be Oscar worthy had to be torpedoed. It was lunancy. Tyler Perry and Oscar should never be mentioned within 500 words of one another.

    It doesn’t matter if this is the only movie with black actors — Tyler PErry has no artistic vision or skill.

    He has no chance of winning an oscar with his own drivel. So he attached himself to Lee Daniels Precious as a producer and now he’s trying to rape Shange’s poem. It’s incredibly offensive.

  26. Murdered? Do you know how many people are going to see this movie opening weekend? Tyler Perry movies makes killings at the Box offices.do you really think two reviews is gonna stop this movie? Your funny and I think you made this article to throw salt at the situration but you fail, and those critics fail becuase the people this movie was made for (Black women) are going to show up at movie theaters acoss the country in groups to see this powerful film. No fat,old, white man is gonna tell Black woman about a movie named “For colored girls” go take a seat.

  27. Roger, you know you have an agenda here. You have been in the business for years and know that trade papers always publish reviews ahead of a film’s opening. Variety and Hollywood Reporter reviews are aimed at those in the business and not the general public. Theatre owners who don’t live near major markets reply on them for information on upcoming titles. I know as I am one of them.

    Articles like this undermine the reliability of anything else you ‘report’.

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