Multitasking mogul Tyler Perry steps away (at least for awhile) from the fat suit and pretty dress of Madea to play the title character in the writer-director's Good Deeds. One that should still play well with his large fan base, though maybe not as many on the distaff side.
The dampered-down, but still uneven romantic drama has a capable cast which includes Gabrielle Union, Thandie Newton, and Brian White that has Perry nearly in every frame as inherited software chief executive Wesley Deeds. His ne'er-do-well brother Walter (White) feels cheated out of his rightful opportunity in the corporation.
The accomplished, bespectacled man may not be as urbane as expected with lovely fiancee Natalie, an underutilized Union, and a swank apartment, so it's up to an energetic nonconformist like evicted single-mom Lindsey (an attractive Newton of 2012 and W) to remove his glasses with greater clarity before putting them back on again. Lindsey intended to be a nurse, but losing her husband in Iraq brought her to the sanitation staff at night in Wesley's office while her cute 6-year-old daughter has to sleep in a janitor's closet while he's "burning the midnight oil."
Of course, Perry usually has an important message that he has to get across and this one may have more significance during ongoing troubling domestic times. The actor in him earnestly strides to convey a range of feelings to stir up the character like Gary Cooper did with the same surname many moons ago. It's not always that convincing though prodding from Natalie helps Wesley shift a little from his normal routine, at least from his well-tailored suits. All the while, this unexpected knight in shining armor finds himself drawn to someone he's not so efficiently trying to get onto a higher plane of existence.
All of this may be well and good, but it may draw ire from many who'll probably find it spurious and unthoughtful. The arc for Wesley and Lindsey has its bumps and bruises in another decent-looking production from Perry with plenty of soulful ballads, even an old hit from Richard Marx at the close. Newton has her moments, but isn't really supported well enough by Perry. Phylicia Rashad (one of the actresses in Perry's For Colored Girls) has what amounts to an extended cameo as Wesley's mother who's filled with cold impugnment.
In the end, Perry puts together another episodic cinematic parable (as Wesley wonders about a famous dead rap artist and has a Harley Davidson) that's maybe a bit too gridlocked and unimaginatively conventional. One that could have been shaped up a bit by the flighty, brash Madea.