From its first moments, “Nobody’s Fool” makes it clear that it is not one of writer-director Tyler Perry’s church-friendly films. Instead, this sometimes raunchy R-rated rom-com’s camera leers over Tika Sumpter’s scantily clad curves without showing her face or even her head, an odd choice for a movie that’s theoretically for and about women — and the perils of their romantic fantasies.
Sumpter stars as ad agency rock star Danica, who couldn’t be more different from her wild sister, Tanya (Tiffany Haddish), fresh out of a five-year prison stint and raring for a fight. When she discovers that Danica has a boyfriend who claims to be isolated on an oil rig, she thinks her sister is being catfished and wants revenge. Meanwhile, Danica is also fending off the advances of coffee shop owner Frank (Omari Hardwick), who doesn’t fit her criteria of the ideal man.
Perry isn’t a director who focuses on technique, and “Nobody’s Fool” is full of out-of-focus shots, odd camera angles and shabby edits. The film is never sure whether its core relationship is between the sisters or a romantic one, and its tone is all over the place. Scored by strings, a late scene should be an emotional touchstone, but jokes undercut what could have been an authentic moment.
Sumpter and Hardwick in particular are solid, but Haddish and a daffy Whoopi Goldberg, as the sisters’ mother, are in an entirely different movie. It might not be a better one, but at least it’s more fun, driven by Haddish’s cuckoo energy. She takes over the film each time she’s on screen (sometimes to its detriment), with her dirty jokes ensuring laughter and that R rating, bulldozing everything in her path. Even with all of Haddish’s hard work, she still can’t clean up the mess she’s landed in.
Rated: R, for sexual content and language throughout, and for drug material.
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Playing: Starts Nov. 2 in general release