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With Jim Sabatini

Daddy's Little Girls

Daddy's Little Girls
Gabrielle Union, Idris Elba and Tasha Smith

Rated: PG-13  for thematic material, drug and sexual content, some violence and language
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 14, 2007 Released by: Lions Gate Films

Tyler Perry has a valentine for his fanbase in Daddy's Little Girls, a cliched, intermittently engaging melodrama.

Having his name on the title doesn't mean he's in this one as the piquant, maternal force, as in Madea's Family Reunion or Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

The well-produced picture is handsomely appointed and features some serviceable tunes as Gabrielle Union (Running With Scissors) and Idris Elba (TV's "The Wire") are the fine-looking topliners.

Union's Julia is a brassy, respected attorney and Elba's Monty is a benevolent mechanic and single father of three cute daughters. When Monty is driving the gorgeous hotshot as a second job he has to suddenly detour to the hospital in a family crisis.

The plot, concocted by Perry, concerns Monty trying to gain custody of his girls, ranging from five to 12 years old, from his ex Jennifer, a sassy Tasha Smith. Jennifer and her wanton boyfriend have plans to use the kids to traffic drugs in school.

Legal matters begin to take hold as Monty is able to find no-nonsense counsel thanks to the reluctant relationship that develops with Julia who hasn't had luck with a rapper type before Monty.

One wonders if Perry thought things out, especially if Judge Judy was around, even considering how Julia really perfunctorily is involved with Monty's case.

Somehow, however, there is appeal between Union (though not required to display her witty chops) and the inviting Idris, which core fans may swoon over. The title generates some irony because the children are underused and probably underestimated given budgetary constraints.

Perry may go back to his Madea again, maybe with better box-office returns. But, this odd couple romance plays like an affecting dramedy with the attractive script to make it a deft gift for audiences, even those who remember the power of films like Kramer vs. Kramer.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Daddy's Little Girls       C       C

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