Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls

Daddy's Little Girls,Movie With A Positive Message For Black Folks

Give Tyler Perry credit he has parlayed his fame and success with the man in drag Madea stage plays and films into a film producing deal with Lions Gate Films and he has done well with his latest flick entitled Daddy’s Little Girls. The film stars Gabrielle Union, Idris Elba, Lou Gossett Jr. Tasha Smith, Tracee Ellis Ross, Malinda Williams, Terri J Vaughn Gary Anthony Sturgis and an excellent supporting cast. Tyler Perry and Lions Gate have partnered to produce a very good film. The movie is set in Atlanta and features Idris Elba (Stringer Bell on HBO’s The Wire) as a hard working brother who is a skilled auto mechanic trying to purchase the garage where he works that is owned by Lou Gossett Jr. Elba has three little girls by Tasha Smith who plays a round the way skeezer who is hooked up with a local drug dealer. Juxtaposed against the working class housing project neighborhood where Elba, Gossett and Smith reside and work is Gabrielle Union’s character who is the hard driven high priced attorney Elba meets while working for Gossett’s other business (a limousine service) to make extra money so he can buy Gossett’s garage.
Union plays a very successful attorney. She is high strung, stuck up, frustrated and man less. Her girlfriends Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends) and Terri J Vaughn (Cedric the Entertainer’s girlfriend on old The Steve Harvey Show) are always trying to hook her up on blind dates that always turn out disastrous for Union. Initially the blind date scenes provide comic relieve for a film that deals with some very heavy issues: irresponsible and shallow females, misunderstood black males, the underground crime economy and its impact on the black community, the “class” divide in the black community , black male-female tension and community helplessness in the face of escalating poverty, crime and predatory lifestyles.
To his credit, Perry looks at all the stereotype about male-female tension, class divisions and parenting and pathology but he turns them upside down and inside out to show there are brothers out there who have character, who love and support their children despite the vicissitudes of life as a black man in AmeriKKKa. The action of the film takes place mostly in the Atlanta working class neighborhood where Elba and Gossett and Co live and work. Because of circumstances Elba is forced to try to raise his three girls on his own following the death of their maternal grandmother who raised them with his financial support even though he was struggling to raise the money to buy Gossett’s garage.
Tyler made sure their mother played by Tasha Smith had no redeeming characteristics. Even before we see her we learn she has abandoned the girls and lives with a cold blooded drug dealing thug who is terrorizing the neighborhood. Smith’s mother tells Elba she is dying of lung cancer and asks him to go with her to file for legal custody of the girls. She still smokes amidst all the medication she is taking and the cancer eventually takes her life. The grandmother dies and Smith’s character doesn’t even attend the funeral service. When she does show up at the cemetery she is loud and wrong. Smith, her thug boyfriend and Elba have much drama throughout the course of the film. Elba’s life is complicated even more by his meeting Union, driving her around and watching how she lives. She is eye candy but she is so bougie Elba knows he has no chance with her.
The movie offers emotional tension and a serious look at the pathology and conflicts within the African American community. It addresses too many issues to bring up here but suffice it to say Tyler Perry pulls it off extremely well. The movie has a message about character, responsibility both personal and community, doing the right thing, love and not judging a person by outer appearances and circumstances. Union and Elba hook up when out of pure desperation he asks her to help him regain custody of his children. While working on the case pro bono after hours she begins to see him in a different light. A spontaneous chance date ignites mutual feelings but Union’s girlfriends try to dissuade her from engaging in anything other than a brief fling with Elba. Their class biases blind them to the fact an auto mechanic can be a good man.
I will not give any more of the story line away, I strongly recommend you see this film. It surprised me because it is not the typical Tyler Perry opus. It is a well crafted motion picture with a good message. He is to be commended for his work. Hopefully the box office will reward him for his effort.

-30-

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