Adapting another one of his stage plays, prolific writer/director Tyler Perry (“Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Why Did I Get Married?”) continues his exploration of the sense and sensibility of the African-American community.
Brenda (Angela Bassett) is barely surviving as a single mother living in a Chicago housing project. And the future looks dim since factory she works at is closing. Perhaps that’s why she agrees to attend the funeral of the father she never knew.
Arriving by bus in the small, rural Georgia town with her teenage son and two daughters, she meets the Browns: Leroy (David Mann), the malaprop-prone, leisure-suit clad buffoon of a deacon, and his hostile, hard-drinking sister Vera (Jennifer Lewis), along with staid Sarah (Margaret Avery), Cora (Tamela Mann) and L.B. (Frankie Faison) Even the grandmother Madea (Tyler Perry’s alter ego) in a gratuitous cameo near the conclusion. Before that, however, Brenda’s attention and affection is caught by Harry (Rick Fox), a former NBA star-turned-coach who, as the plot thickens, takes a much-needed paternal interest in her son, Michael (Lance Gross).
Mired in melodrama, Tyler Perry dabbles in the temptations of drug dealing, morality, religion and, of course, humor. Although his dialogue is unwieldy, his slapstick pacing uneven, his characters basically caricatures, and his direction functional, considering the shrill performances, Perry’s a crowd-pleaser. A victim of physical abuse as a child and a survivor of toiling for too many years in obscurity, Perry is determined to deliver his perennial message of perseverance: “Just keep praying.” And Angela Bassett can seemingly do no wrong. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns” is a fun-loving 5, celebrating the possibility of second chances.