Nobody’s Fool finally brings Tyler Perry together with Tiffany Haddish. I’m sure some accountants somewhere are hugging in a room full of money, as this move will only fuel the zeitgeist. Yet, it feels not quite like a Perry movie. The usual dramatic construction and plot points are there. However, it feels insanely mainstream for something that the once-and-future Madea would bestow on theaters.
Thirty minutes into the film, I realized that I’ve seen this story before. Like it or not, we’re getting a modern Blaxploitation take on Napoleon Dynamite’s brother’s online dating subplot. That’s right, kids. The film is Tyler Perry’s first R-rated comedy romp into the world of gender norms and online catfishing. Haddish plays the ex-con sister who has to keep her straight-laced sister from getting conned by her online dream man. Meanwhile, Tika Sumpter is trying to mine all she can out of a Tyler Perry where she has to play the straight man.
Sumpter is great at saying that she can challenge how women are allowed to date. Meanwhile, Haddish reaches peak Haddish as she becomes Perry’s avatar for sizing up the rotten modern world. I’ve seen a lot of readers being wary of Haddish digging deeper into the Girls Trip character well. She kinda does it, but she also embraced being in an R-rated Perry movie. Language is saucier than I’ve seen in his other films, however the melodrama dials down even with the drug use.
In a word, it’s odd. Everyone gives Tyler Perry grief for sticking to the same old structure, but he has done something different. In the press lead-up to this film, all Perry seems to talk about now is killing off Madea. I get the desire to bust out of old stand-bys, but it doesn’t seem like the new material is solid yet. Audiences will see the film for Haddish, but Tika Sumpter seems to be striking on what can make Perry films work going forward.
She’s strong and independent without having to be a cliche. Sumpter gets a bit of the jokes, but she’s never stealing focus. Kudos to former Glee star Amber Riley for being a highlight in the supporting cast. Yet, Whoopi Goldberg remains the odd spot in what was a pretty typical comedy. She’s a weed dealer who ended up being the reason why Tiffany Haddish went to prison. However, these drugs are still dictating the ladies’ lives in the present.
If that wasn’t enough, the film also forces in a new romance with the typical Perry panache and I’m left with a headache. Make one movie and stick it with, dude. It’s one of his better recent releases. However, between the studio change and the multiple little production tweaks…I wonder if we’re seeing a true director approved cut. Honestly, I’m expecting to hear any day that the studio took this away from him. While there is a story to be had, so much feels like bean counters recutting a film for whom they think will like it.