After Madea (Tyler Perry) catches some children looting her home, she turns them over to their Aunt April (Taraji P. Henson), a nightclub singer who wants nothing to do with her late sister's kids. But things begin to change when a handyman (Adam Rodriguez) decides to rent a room in her basement. Now nothing will ever be the same as April finds love, faith, family - and herself - in this inspirational romantic comedy featuring performances by Mary J. Blige, Gladys Knight and Marvin L. Winans.
In one of his most satisfying films to date, Tyler Perry keeps the faith with his devoted audience, giving them his signature mash-up of heart-wrenching melodrama (there's enough material here for a dozen Lifetime movies), outrageous comic relief, and soul-stirring spiritual uplift. Adapted from his play of the same name, I Can Do Bad All by Myself
stars Taraji P. Henson as April, another damaged Perry woman on the verge. She's an alcoholic nightclub singer involved with a controlling married man and estranged from her mother and her church (despite the best efforts of a congregant portrayed by Gladys Knight). When her mother dies, April is forced to take in her dead crack-addict sister's three children. She does not exactly put out the welcome mat. Perry's crowd-pleasing signature character, Madea, aka "the heavyweight champion of the world," is mostly offscreen, but she makes the most of her scant screen time, serving up her own brand of old school discipline ("I promise you gonna come up missing," she threatens one troubled teen who talks back to her) and values-added wisdom ("You get out of this life what you put into it"). Will April finally see the light, accept the Lord, and open her heart to the kids and the saintly (and handsome) Colombian immigrant handyman (Adam Rodriguez) who lives in her basement? Knight, Marvin Winans, and Mary J. Blige raise the roof with showstopping gospel and blues numbers that capture the fervor of a Perry theatrical experience. Another Perry film not screened in advance for critics, another film that was No. 1 at the box office its opening weekend, I Can Do Bad All by Myself
is further testimony that, for now, Perry can seemingly do no wrong. --Donald Liebenson