Helen McCarter (Kimberly Elise) believes that she has been the perfect wife to her husband of 18 years, Charles (Steve Harris). She and Charles married when she was right out of high school and he was a struggling attorney (or in law school that isn't very clear). 18 years later, he has the most prestigious firm in Atlanta and is receiving an award from his peers - basically "Lawyer of the Year". Helen is in heaven on this night - their 18th wedding anniversary, but Charles is cold-hearted and mean. So mean in fact, he doesn't even want to celebrate. He just turns his back on her.
Ever the optimist, Helen just figures that he has had a rough day and leaves it alone. She heads to his office the next day to try to celebrate and walks in on a very happy Charles standing next to a white woman and two little brown boys. Charles rudely dismisses her and she heads back home. Once there she sees her closet filled with new clothes. And all of her old belongings in boxes and out in a moving truck. Helen is beside herself in happiness she thinks her husband has gotten rid of her old stuff and has given her a whole new wardrobe. She greets Charles in one of the dresses only to be confronted again by Charles and that woman. This time Charles tells he that she has to take her stuff and get out. He is moving his girlfriend and their two sons in. He drags her out of her house and dumps her on the front porch. Orlando (Shemar Moore) picks her off of the ground and puts her in the moving truck. Charles isolated her from friends and family so the only place she can go is to Madea's house. Madea (Tyler Perry) is her great aunt. And Madea don't play.
Madea is a hard woman. But through her hard-nosed guidance, she sets Helen onto the road of finding herself and loving again. A process we get to watch and hear as she details her day to day emotions in her journal.
Some critics just don't get it. Written by Tyler Perry (the most successful black playwright- ever) and directed by Seattle's own Darren Grantt, DMBW is not the best movie ever made. At times the writing and acting is close to horrible. But when you haven't had a drink of water in 3 days, do you care if there is a little sand in it? If you haven't eaten in a week, do you care if the food is a little stale? I sure don't. It's been a long time since my Nana has been able to go see a black film and not feel guilty about the language and plot and black audiences, black women in particular, the movie is the best thing since sliced bread. Perhaps if you tried to look at it from that point of view, you might not be so hard on it.
My 99% black audience *loved* it. They laughed from start to finish. We were happy, no overjoyed, to see Cicley Tyson back on screen. WE all have Madeas in our family. I had a Madere and a Bumpsie, both of whom were just like Madea.
This movie really touched upon an aspect of black life that we can all identify with. More realistic then all of these ghettofied movies that have been presented as representation of black life previously.
Also what has been overlooked is the fact that this a movie you can go see after church. My 77 y/o nana went after church with the woman's auxiliary. 24 elderly black women piled into the church van and off they went. She said must've been 10 or 12 other churches doing the same thing.
DMBW was preachy at times and I could have done without the Uncle Joe character. Younger audience members may snicker at the chastity presented in the movie. They may also snicker over the fact that Shemar Moore's Orlando has some corny lines and chooses to remain chaste. But they should watch the older women in the audience absolutely melt when he shows Helen that kind of respect. They should take away that it's okay to not have sex before marriage. Even for grown folks.
And my lord! Wasn't it just a blessing to see Ms. Tyson back on screen? That alone brought tears to my eyes. She is such a treasure. I wish she graced us more often.
The one thing that really bothers me is the consistent demonization of white women in our movies. More specifically, what I object to is the plot line that continuously crops up is that the greatest insult to a black woman is when her man leaves her for a white woman. I reject that. I would be devastated if my husband left me for another woman. Period. Truth be told, I think the greatest insult to me would be if he left me for another man. That ain't gonna happen, I'm just saying that would upset me more. By stating that the worse thing that can happen to me is for a white woman to take my man, gives them too much power. And if my husband does leave me, then so be it. To show my ass would not work in my favor. We should think about that.
This movie is really worth seeing. Twice. Seriously, a black movie like this is WAY overdue. Don't expect alot, just go and enjoy yourself and take your mama!
Thank the lord. Really. This movie is so overdue that it brings tears of happiness to my eyes.
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Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2005
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