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Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)

Time heals the heart. Faith heals the rest.

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 116 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a

Meet Helen (Kimberly Elise). In ‘Diary of a Mad Black Woman’, she’s the “mad black woman” of the title – and that’s “mad” as in angry, as opposed to loopy. But fear not, nut-house fans, for both sides of the madness coin are catered for in this bizarre movie. Helen’s Grandma Madea, you see, is as barking as they come. She’s played by Tyler Perry in a gender-bending piece of self-casting, and – as the writer of both this movie and the series of gospel plays it’s based on – he’s the one who has to be held ultimately responsible for the gigantic clusterfuck that this whole thing is.

It’s about a naive and down-trodden housewife (that’s our Helen) who’s been spending the last 18 years living in ignorant heaven with high-flying attorney hubby Charles (Steve Harris). And ol’ Charlie might be one of the best in the business when it comes to working a courtroom, but it soon transpires that he’s also a real git, who’s secretly fathered two kiddies with floozy Brenda (Lisa Marcos) and plans to move her into his swanky marital home without even bothering to tell poor Hellsy-Wellsy first.

So, having ended up out on her ear, the sweet little wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly-if-it-called-her-nasty-names Helen ends up on the doorstep of bustling beast-lady Madea, who convinces her to hit the revenge trail – culminating in a recreation of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only using furniture in place of people.

There seems to be a mish-mash of at least four separate movie ideas going on here. There’s the ‘Sleeping With The Enemy’-style tale of how Helen tears herself away from her rotten other half to find happiness with the sickeningly nice Orlando (Shemar Moore, of ‘Young and the Restless’ fame). There’s the woefully-underdeveloped sub-plot involving Charles’ dirty-dealings with some form of ghetto gangsta. There’s the ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’/’Misery’ route that it briefly takes when Chuck finds himself in a wheelchair and Helen uncharacteristically seizes her chance to get her own back. And, on top of all that, there’s the whole Madea thing, which feels like it’s been lifted straight out of a Martin Lawrence vehicle and never comes even close to sitting properly with the rest of the material. Sometimes, such diversity of plot would be welcomed as a rich tapestry of story-telling, but here it just feels like a jumbled, ill-thought-out mess.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its good points. Elise does herself proud in a role which must have been extremely difficult to get to grips with given how heavily-laden it is with inconsistencies, and you can’t fault pensmith Perry for effort. Sadly though, the movie still fails. Many of the attempts at humour sit uncomfortably with the subject matter (and that’s coming from someone who’s normally a big fan of dark comedy), and the last-ditch addition of some Christian what-not makes for a poor attempt at winding the whole thing up with some sort of tenuous moral lesson.

It's Got: Perry playing three separate roles, when you’d struggle to justify the presence of even one of them.

It Needs: To pick its strongest thread and go with it, instead of throwing in so much superfluous pap.


Dear Diary, I saw a movie today, and it wasn’t very good. That’s all for today!