With a title like DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, one can be forgiven for expecting something edgy, raw, and raucous. Alas, this dismal little potboiler delivers only tedium.
Kimberly Elise, who deserves better material, stars as Helen, a woman who in the course of the film will confuse learning how to lose her temper with personal growth beyond her issues with low self-esteem. Not that losing her temper isnt a step in the right direction. Shes spent 18 years married to Charles (Steve Harris), an attorney with money to burn and the sensitivity of drywall with whom, against all sanity, reason, or cogent plot pointing, she claims to still love madly. After all that time, most of it being verbally abused and sexually ignored, she is literally thrown out of her mansion with only the clothes on her back and the U-Haul that Charles has thoughtfully packed up for her. Hes also hired a driver, Orlando, (Shemar Moore), to take her wherever she wants to go, and because he is so very pretty, its no surprise that he will later loom large in the plot. With nowhere else to turn, Helen shows up in the middle of the night at the doorstep of her step-grandmother, Madea (screenwriter Tyler Perry in one of three roles), and begins to find out what its like in the real world.
The mood veers wildly, and thats the only dynamic thing going on here. The choices are Madea, pendulous breasts bobbing beneath a shapeless dress, taking a chainsaw to the furniture in Helens former home, and Helens mother, Myrtle (Cicely Tyson), piously thumping out homespun, if threadbare, platitudes. Between that there is Helen being courted by Orlando, a man so sensitive that he all but asks permission to breathe when Helens around because she might perceive respiration as him coming on too strong or moving too fast. Why he hangs around is a question thats never quite addressed, considering the heaping helping of insults she tosses at him along with a drink in his face for, Im guessing here, simply existing. Is the message here that if youre wronged, its okay to take it out on the next nice guy to come along, and, moreover, he will not only take it, but fall madly in love with you? As for Helen, all it takes is a compliment on her new hairdo from the sensitive Orlando to make her swoon. Either that or she ran out of insults. Elise is a capable actress and try as she might to inject some fiber into Helen, the part is a non-starter, underwritten and overwrought.
The script is much the same, with the subtlety of a brickbat and the finesse of a car crash, it tosses in subplots involving junkies and drug dealers to hammer home points about love and forgiveness. By the time the deus ex machina happens, an apt term considering the constant references to Christianity and the rousing gospel choir at the end, the audience has given up hope for anything better.
Hokey and hackneyed from the get-go, DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN is so predictable, so bland, and so unctuous, that it qualifies as a movie only in the technical sense that it is on film and is projected onto a screen.