(2009)3Tracie CooperI Can Do Bad All by Myself is a Christian-oriented romantic comedy drama with occasional drag interludes and several overlong musical numbers speaking to the state of its Troubled Person du jour. In other words, it's a Tyler Perry film: scattered, sassy, corny, heavy-handed, and -- for his fan base -- a crowd pleaser.
The film begins when three kids (Hope Olaide Wilson, Kwesi Boakye, and Freddy Siglar) break into a house in hopes of stealing something that will bring in enough money for their next meal; they were living with their grandmother, but she's been uncharacteristically absent for several days. Their scheme may have worked if they had broken into any home besides Madea's (Tyler Perry). After deciding against involving law enforcement or "shanking" the children herself, Madea delivers them to the doorstep of their only locatable relative: April (Taraji P. Henson), their aunt. April is a lost soul who works the night shift at a smoky bar and self-medicates with alcohol (later, in a surprisingly serious plot twist, April reveals a history of sexual abuse). She has a married, emotionally abusive boyfriend (Brian J. White) and no tolerance for the kids deposited to her ramshackle home. When the new living situation threatens to become permanent she resolves to send them to foster care, provoking the ire of her live-in Mexican handyman (Adam Rodriguez) and Tanya (Mary J. Blige), her best friend. It looks as though April has chosen a lonely existence over her own betterment and the future of her nieces and nephews; luckily, there's something standing between this fate and a brighter one: faith. With the support of the church, her newfound family, and a kinder man (Rodriguez) by her side, April finds herself with the tools she needs to make the right choice.
Though Madea (Perry) is relegated to the background, she steals the show, particularly after offering up a mangled biblical story involving Noah and his famous St. Louis arch. The film would have benefited with more Madea and less religious musical interludes; after all, Madea can moralize without making the audience question whether they're at a Sunday matinee or at church. As it is, full-length, sweeping gospel numbers aren't quite enough to withstand suddenly serious topic fodder: the near-rape of April's 16-year-old niece and April's own abuse by a family member. Bizarrely, April's molestation went unresolved when Rose, the much revered matriarch of the family, kept silent on the issue. For a moment, I Can Do Bad All by Myself goes deeper and darker than most would expect from a Tyler Perry vehicle -- but the moment passes when April hears the church choir's rendition of her grandmother's favorite song. An epiphany is had, a happy ending is imminent, and a deluge of Madea's best schtick is aired during the credits. All in all, for what it is, I Can Do Bad All by Myself maintains the elements of Perry's formula for success: morality, fun, and men dressed as old ladies.
Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself on AllMovie
A hard-living nightclub singer discovers the importance of family with the help of a handsome Mexican immigrant in this inspirational comedy drama from writer/director Tyler Perry. When pistol-packing granny Madea (Perry) awakens to the sound of her home being ransacked by wayward teen Jennifer (Hope Olaide Wilson) and her two younger brothers, she promptly marches the troubled kids over their aunt April's house. But despite being the only relative the kids can turn to, April (Taraji P. Henson) is hardly a role model; a self-destructive songbird with a serious drinking problem, she spends her nights at the club and relies on her married boyfriend, Raymond, to pay the bills. Suddenly, into April's life wanders Sandino (Adam Rodriguez), a hard-luck immigrant in search of some honest work. Before long, Sandino has moved into April's basement room, and formed a solid connection with the kids. The closer April and Sandino grow, the more April begins to recognize the importance of faith and family. When the time comes to say goodbye to her old ways and start a new life, the wounded chanteuse realizes that she may have finally found the true love that's always eluded her.