Tyler Perry changes his policy on critics screenings, but he may come to regret it
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Prolific writer-director-mogul Tyler Perry seems to have a hate-hate relationship with critics: they hate his films and he hates to screen them for review. He showed his first movie, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” to them and they thrashed it. Then it went on to become a popular success, giving Perry the clout to bar critics from seeing advance screenings of any of his subsequent eight films.
But with his latest feature, the artistically ambitious “For Colored Girls,” adapted from the acclaimed 1970s stage play, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf,” perhaps Perry has decided to ease up a little. After all, the film -- which opens Nov. 5 -- has difficult subject matter (such as rape and domestic violence) and doesn’t have the easy audience hook of getting to see a grown man in drag. So getting critics on his side seems like a smart strategy.
If early reviews are any indication, however, Perry’s newfound spirit of openness may backfire on him. Writing in the Hollywood Reporter, critic Kirk Honeycutt calls the movie a “train wreck,” and after acknowledging Perry’s built-in fan base, cautions that “word-of-mouth could be toxic.”
And over at Variety, critic Peter Debruge echoes those sentiments. He has kind words for the cast, which includes Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton and Whoopi Goldberg, but when it comes to Perry and his frequent behind-the-scenes collaborators, he says, “There’s some great acting being done here ... but the cameras aren’t where they need to be to capture it, and the editing isn’t properly calibrated to shape what the performers are dishing out.”
He also writes, “While Perry’s craft has slowly but surely improved with each successive film, this latest project seems to fall beyond his reach.”
We’ll know soon enough if all critics agree with these early opinions. And if they do, it may be a long, long, long time before we see another advance review on a Tyler Perry movie again.
-- Patrick Kevin Day