Tyler Perry, whose new movie opens today, is an American original who fought his way to significance from the margins. Once homeless and nearly penniless, he's now a pop cultural force whose movies have earned over $400 million even though critics treat them with condescension or contempt when they bother to watch them at all. He remains an outsider -- not just because he's black, conservative, deeply (often sanctimoniously) religious and because of the persistent rumors about his sexuality (including rumors that he's suing "Boondocks" creator Aaron Magruder for claiming that he is gay), but because he makes truly personal and often deeply strange films, and releases a new one every six months.
Reviewing Perry's first solo outing as a screenwriter-producer for New York Press, I called "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" "a jumbled wreck of a movie, alternately prosaic and loony," but added, "the source material is so rich and in-your-face sincere that it works anyway." Here we are half a decade on: new movie, same verdict, times 100. Most of Perry's movies are whiplash-inducing experiences, alternately clumsy and powerful, pandering and bold, crude and beautiful. Perry's 10th film in five years, "For Colored Girls" -- an adaptation of Ntozake Shange's dramatic prose poem "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf" -- is his most problematic work. It's also his most ambitious.
See www.salon.com for full review