Studio: Lionsgate (111 min)
Plot: A wealthy businessman is forced to re-examine his life, when he meets a single mother who works on the cleaning crew in his office building.
Cast: Tyler Perry, Thandie Newton, Gabrielle Union, Brian White, Rebecca Romijn, Jamie Kennedy, Phylicia Rashad, Beverly Johnson
Bottom Line: **
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
Tyler Perry wants audiences to know that he’s tackling a new genre in his latest offering “Good Deeds.”
Perry, who has made twelve inspirational themed flicks in eight years, returns as actor, writer, director and producer in what he coins a “romantic movie.”
This time, he’s assembled a formidable cast that includes British actress, Thandie Newton, Brian White, Phylicia Rashad and Gabrielle Union in this love story about a tycoon who helps a down on her luck office cleaner.
Perry also stars in a miscast role as the main character, Wesley Deeds, a successful businessman whose seemingly perfect life is derailed when he has a chance encounter with a single mother (Newton), who can’t seem to make ends meet.
His first attempt at trying something new follows his usual trademark theme, and is riddled with the all too familiar characters we have come to recognize in his movies. There’s the self-destructing character (White), a domineering parent (Rashad) and the down on her luck character (Newton) whose life he predictably makes better.
As the film opens, we are introduced to Wesley and his unhappy fiancée Natalie (Union) as they puddle through their mundane routine.
“They’re the billion dollar couple on paper,” adds Perry, “but she’s completely bored in the relationship and he’s completely lost in it. I think it happens to a lot of people in life. You settle, because you don’t want to be alone, or because you’re told, ‘This is what you’re supposed to do.”
After a chance encounter with Lindsey, who cleans the office building of his company Deeds Corporation, Wesley is compelled to perform a good deed and is jolted out of his predictable routine, forcing him to examine his existence.
“What I really focus on in this film is this sense of finding yourself in life,” explains Perry. “Wesley Deeds is a man who’s lost. He’s doing everything that everybody’s telling him to do. He’s living his father’s dream and his mother’s dream, and in the process forgets his own. There’s an epiphany of sorts when he meets Lindsey.”
Despite being a polished production, what “Good Deeds” lacks is character development. The relationships could have been fleshed out a bit more, even if only for a few minutes to lead to a heightened understanding of the character’s background, especially to understand Lindsey’s demise.
When we meet her, she has problems paying her rent. She eventually gets evicted and scooping up a single plastic bag from a stack of possessions her landlord has left on the curb, she resorts to living in her car with her six-year-old daughter, Ariel (Jordenn Thompson). Through casual conversations, we learn that she lost her boyfriend in a war, but the several underlying factors which ultimately leads to her demise are not told, nor will audiences understand what makes White’s character so self-destructing.
Still, it’s refreshing to see Newton, who has shown an impressive versatility in films like “Crash” and “Beloved” on screen, for she easily delivers an assured, finely tuned performance that almost saves the film.
Another trademark Perry production, “Good Deeds” is notable for one thing: the ability to tell a story without relying on special effects, gross-out humor, gore or X-rated dialogue.
This was printed in the March 11, 2012 - March 24, 2012 Edition