The Single Moms Club

By: Addison WylieSingle Moms Club poster

When people gang up on Tyler Perry, I’m there to usually defend him.  I might not be saying good things about his movies, but I’ve stood up for him from a business perspective.  He knows his audience well, and that knowledge has led him to be one of the most profitable filmmakers of our time.  But this time, I side with the haters.  And, I can’t see his fan base happily accepting this new film either.

Perry has been outspoken about how he doesn’t deal with racial or gender stereotypes.  I’m sorry, Tyler, but The Single Moms Club has characters that are developed based on how they look on the outside.  They haven’t been built by taking their motivations or passions into consideration.  The Single Moms Club feeds on stereotypes.  Even then, the film can’t get past living on life support.

Five women (Nia Long, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Amy Smart, Zulay Henao, and Cocoa Brown) are all brought together during a parent-teacher conference after their children have been caught acting out bad behaviour.  As punishment to avoid expulsion (and to creakily move the plot forward), the moms have been assigned the duty of arranging a big, shiny bash.  Miraculously enough, they all have been struggling with the same situations involving an absent father, stressful workloads, and miscellaneous evil men.  You’d think they were all in a Tyler Perry movie or something.

It only takes Perry three minutes to lay his cards out and tell the audience how The Single Moms Club is going to present itself.  White people are always anxious or saying the wrong things around people of different ethnicity, black people are having corrosive reactions to things, and male characters are always putting the opposite sex at a disadvantage while they twist their figurative moustache – unless they are attractive enough to star in underwear advertisements.

If you’ve seen the average film out of Perry’s filmmaking catalogue, you have a good idea as to how the The Single Moms Club will flow.  I wish I could tell you differently and that Perry has finally learned not to direct a film as if it was taking place on the world’s largest stage, but he disappoints again.

At a certain point, I wondered if Perry was going for a satirical approach with The Single Moms Club.  He’s finally had it with critics taking jabs at how he develops his projects, so he’s made a movie where everything is blunt to a level of senselessness.  However, this theory is disproven.  There are too many scenes where the actors have been directed to bend over backwards to really sell the emotion within a monologue.

Since the lead mothers are going through similar hurdles, the audience essentially receives the same romance five times with roughly the same amount of banality.  The desires don’t suit the characters, and the actors aren’t sold either.  They’re having a hard enough time trying to push out the formulaic grub Perry has tepidly written for them.

Movie goers can see the cast working to stand on their own feet under the pressure of Perry’s standardized fare.  From what little they can put forth does in fact help us swallow what’s being conveyed.  Although, I was often taking myself out of the movie to hope that Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids, Blended) wouldn’t end up being typecast as the uptight socialite in future work.

Just because those involved with The Single Moms Club raise the film from a pitiful level to a mundane plain doesn’t make Tyler Perry’s latest into something that’s passable or easy to overlook.  This is still a discouraging film from Perry, who can usually have the power to charm the audience into smiling.  This time, he’s given himself the role of TK – a supportive and comely role model to Nia Long’s May.  But, even his dapper presence can’t conceal just how nosy and unflattering his character is.  Only Perry has the audacity to make something like snooping through a stranger’s purse an adorable gesture.  Tyler, get real.

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