Good Deeds (NC16)
WESLEY Deeds (Tyler Perry) is the calm, thoughtful head of a large corporation, which he runs with his wastrel hothead of a brother Walter (Brian J. White). Their mother Wilimena (Phylicia Rashad) is a matriarch vigilant against anything that might smear her family's good name.
Wesley is engaged to Natalie (Gabrielle Union) in a dull if workable relationship. He gets into an argument over a parking space with struggling single mother Lindsey (Thandie Newton), a chance meeting that will change their lives.
This dull muddle tries an update of the familiar opposites-attract love story by packaging it as an urban drama, laced with social commentary. It manages to deliver a few insights into how a middle-class woman with a child can quickly become trapped in an inescapable spiral of poverty, but its failure to sell the Cinderella fairy tale at its heart dooms the enterprise.
Perry, writer and director and the one-man film dynamo responsible for the popular cross-dressing Madea comedy series, casts himself as a dour businessman out of touch with his own feelings. Like a wise king in a maladjusted court, he is surrounded by characters - his brother, mother and fiancee - who try to shame, wheedle or otherwise act out in attempts to break through his stoic exterior.
There are certainly enough nods to fairy tales. Archetypes abound - Wesley's mother is the cruel royal matriarch, his brother is the jealous princeling, and his fiancee, the loveless arranged match. Lindsey is the princess lost in a menacing urban forest who must be rescued.
Perry mostly adopts a single, pained expression for most of the film. It is hard to blame him, given how little range he gives himself in the script. He speaks mostly to offer sage advice or deliver justified scoldings to those less noble than himself.
That his facade of control is just, well, a facade comes as a surprise towards the end of the movie when it could have been better developed earlier.
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