Seriously, I’m giving up drinking. I just don’t like it anymore.
Anyway, I saw the film at Rave, formerly known as The Bridge (why are movie theatres being named after nightclubs, you ask? Oh, because folks come dressed like at any minute, a disco ball is going to fall from the ceiling and a DJ booth is going to appear from behind the screen). The 8:15 p.m. show was sold out and from what I overheard from the box office cashier, the previous and the subsequent shows were sold out as well. Say you want about Tyler Perry but he is a marketing genius. I was there with a group of about 17 women of all different ages.
The audience was at least 99.9 percent black women. There were a sprinkling of men here and there, who were mostly accompanied by a girlfriend, a wife or someone, whom they are trying to date rape later on, I dunno. However I did spot, all the way in the back row of the theatre, three black men, who appeared to be there on their own accords. I thought they were spies, from the Philadelphia chapter of the Angry Black Men Coalition, sent to gauge, and report back on, the “bitter black women” levels, which might come out of the film. My suspicious were confirmed when my own personal spies (alas my co-worker’s mother and sister, who bravely were seated next to the ABMC members) told me that during the film credits, when the mostly women audience were applauding, these men collectively roared a muffled “boo.”
So on to the review. For Colored Girls…is Tyler Perry's adaption of the hit Broadway stage play, written and directed by Ntozake Shange called "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow…blah, blah, blah. We all know this.
The only thing you want to know is: Was it any good?
Short answer: Yeah, it was surprisingly pretty good. All the actresses were great in the film – with the exception of Janet, who’s plastic, make-up infused face distracted the hell out of me, more so than her monotone reading of her lines. Plus, she looks so much like Michael Jackson, which made me really, really sad. Rest in Peace MJ.
If you seen Macy Gray in Shadowboxer, you seen her in For Colored Girls, which made it hilarious – even though she wasn’t supposed to be funny. Mainly because it felt like she was just playing herself. And speaking of type-cast, if I see Kimberly Elise in another movie crying over some dead or missing kids, I will snap. Seriously, the girl cries hard and ugly, which made her excellent in this role.
As far as the other performances: Phylicia Rashid was Clare but without Bill Huxtable; Loretta Divine was loud; Thandi Newton is mad skinny but with great range; Kerry Washington was kind of irrelevant; Whoopi Goldberg was bat-shit crazy (and for some reason, left me desiring pancakes); and Anika Noni Rose had this weird, talking through her wide-smile-teeth-thing happening. It’s really hard to explain but when you go see it (if you haven’t already), you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Break-out star award goes to Tessa Thompson, who looked very familiar but I can’t seem to place her face in anything else (and IMDB didn’t help much). But she was actually pretty good and kept pace with the other, more experienced cast members.
That being said, it could have been better. As with most of my critiques of Perry’s work, the film felt rushed and a bit overly melodramatic. It was like the rape scene happened right after the gay scene, which came two scenes before the abortion scene, which was followed by the “Weezy F. Baby, Please Save the Babies” scene…whoa, it was a bit too much to digest at one sitting. I don’t know if it was because of the short span of time allocated for film or just the material itself as I imagine that a stage play based on poems is quite difficult to translate to film. Whatever the reason, I don’t think that 90 minutes is not nearly enough time to give these characters, and their stories, its proper due. Even Women of Brewster’s Place was a mini-series, which leads me to my next point.
It was exactly like Women of Brewster’s Place. I know I said that a bunch of times before but that’s exactly how it felt. The single brownstone apartment building with its musty interior and lead-based paint chips everywhere, served as the primary focus – and residence of many of the characters - of the film. As Shange's production identified the women by colors (i.e. The Woman in Red, The Women in Green, etc…) you could logically make the assessment that Perry’s marker was the apartment and its décor, which was used to illustrated the emotional relevance of each character. Not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.
And despite my doubts of how Perry would be able to work in a back alley abortion into a modern themed setting, I think he was able to pull it off, especially when you consider the overall climate of the country (i.e. parental consent requirements, increasing cost for Planned Parenthood visits, etc) on the issue of abortion in general.
Truest of the play will, I suspect, take issue with the apparent mixing of character lines and plots as well as the addition of new characters not in the original work. However, if you are willing to put that aside, as well as the rush element, which I mentioned earlier, you might actually enjoy the film. Moreover, I think it’s great that Shange’s work – regardless of its form – is now being exposed to a whole new crop of girls and women, who have never heard of, seen nor read the play before. I imagine that there are young women about, whom like me, have never had access to identifiable stories written by and for us in their schooling. Hell, if I am being honest, I hadn’t heard of the play (thanks Philadelphia Public School System) until sophomore year of college when the theatre department put on a production of it – and that’s just real.
Of course, I’m going to have to watch it again, considering that, as mentioned before, I was in a theatre with mostly black women. And no offense to us as a people, but we do not know how to shut the hell up during a movie. Some folks are more adaptable to that, I am not one them. Squawk, Squawk, Squaaawwwkkkk! - At times, I felt like I was in a chicken coup with a bunch of cackling hens. Harsh? Yes. Truthful? Yes to that too.