So what is the secret of Tyler Perry's film success? My guess is it's because he hits on universal notes through his ethnic family that play in every household.
As the film revolves around Brenda (Angela Bassett), a single mother who has chosen badly when it comes to men, who holds her small family together with determination and commitment. She has about the purest nicest children we could possible meet. Son (Lance Gross), is an adolescent who is willing to help mom with his two little sisters with no argument. His only difficulty comes when he is determined to help mom by flirting with gang drug sales, after she is put out of work when her company closes its doors. Michael, the son is also a fine disciplined student and more important a solid basketball player, who draws the attention of former player Harry (a very handsome Rick Fox). Harry is very interested in helping Michael on the basketball court but he is very very interested in Brenda.
The story simply told whrls around the on-again-off again potential romance between Brenda and Harry. But Perry brings us to a family reunion of sorts in Georgia as Brenda is invited to attend her long-lost father's funeral. Mildred (Irma T Hall) who provides child care for Brenda urges her to go south and meet her family after praising her as the most caring mother in the neighborhood. Brenda obviously doesn't believe in public assistance, because her lights are shut off and the family doesn't have enough to eat from time to time.
Harry follows the family to Georgia where he is part of the crowd around Brenda's family, and all the barriers come up before Brenda will consider the advances of the practically perfect Harry.
The comedy and enjoyment in the film comes from the gang in Georgia. The best is from David Mann's Leroy Brown, one of the uncles who uses malapropos with ease, and considers his nephew who is a doctor-to-be a gonorrhea-cologist. His costumes, walk and natural appeal as a light weigh uncle, make him a character to care about, he balances out the more serious role that Bassett carries.
It's all too squeaky clean everyone except cousin Vera (Jenifer Lewis). She's the gossiping drunk in the family, is as helpful and nice as can be, and she isn't even that bad. The cousins and uncles are all willing to take Brenda's family in and make them part of the family. They even act like players in a real-life TV show in which down and out families are given a new lease on life.
But even with too much formula and perfection the family theme plays quite well here. Some men in the audience will moan at the mention of the ideal man, handsome healthy former basketball professional Harry, and they have reason to be jealous of his character.
Before, Perry lets us go we are treated to a police chase with twenty squad cars chasing Perry's grandmother character, Madea, which is absolutely unnecessary to the plot of the film, it's almost like a comic commercial near the end of the script, but it works.
Tyler Perry knows how to get us into the cinema seats, he does it with comedy and reflections on the American family.