Parents' Guide to

Diary of a Mad Black Woman

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Syrupy drama -- not much here for kids.

Movie PG-13 2005 98 minutes
Diary of a Mad Black Woman Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 16+


Really good movie.. sad and sweet.. ,,! Must watch
age 14+

Combination of comedy and drama makes for a satisfying film!

This is a great movie, but for a Madea flick I must admit that this is more of a romantic drama than a full-on comedy movie. Madea definitely provides the tough lessons and humour you'd expect. The acting is also pretty solid. I went into the film with low expectations but most of the performances were good, including Helen's character who I felt myself sympathizing with. The ultimate message is one of forgiveness and love, but the movie also showcases unsavoury themes such as infidelity and revenge, although these are obviously painted in a negative light through Madea's commentary and the other characters' responses. Family bonds are represented nicely and sometimes dysfunctionally, but this clearly adds to the comedy aspect of the film. There are moments of slapstick violence (e.g., Madea pulls out a gun on several occasions) and bawdy, crass jokes (including some inappropriate remarks by a great uncle towards his great niece). There are even more shocking moments of violence such as domestic abuse where a husband drags his wife out of the house across the floor while mistress looks on and hard slaps to the face. Some wine drinking, smoking, and marijuana use is present in the film. The movie is sometimes cheesy and cringy, particularly the scenes with Helen and Orlando, and I wonder if this was an intentional decision. Expect several romantic kissing scenes, but nothing overtly sexual or distasteful at all. This movie should be fine for even the younger teens!

This title has:

Great messages
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4):
Kids say (2):

This movie never decides what it wants and what it is. Helen has to deconstruct her life and rebuild from the inside out. She gets a job as a waitress and visits her mother (Cecily Tyson) in a nursing home. She is at first angry with Orlando, then too proud to accept his help and unable to believe that any man could be good to her, but finally ready to give and accept love. Then Charles comes back into her life. This time he needs her. Helen has to decide what she wants and who she is. The movie tries to have it both ways, asking us to root for Helen when she is a pious victim and a, well, "mad black woman." It teeters unsteadily between crude humor and soulful faith.

Elise is a lovely actress who looks exquisite as she suffers and she makes the most of the soapy melodrama. Moore is an appealing knight in shining armor and Tyson, as always, adds some class. Perry's wild caricature of a drag performance as Madea seems to be from an entirely different movie. If Diary of a Mad Black Woman had been written by white people, the portrayal would have been called racist, sexist, and just plain embarrassing. Perry's old man is a one-joke dud, but his role as Brian shows some presence and conviction. One-note characters like the crack addict and the drug dealer probably worked better on stage but just seem cardboard-y on screen. Helen's next diary entry just might be to wish for a better script.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: February 25, 2005
  • On DVD or streaming: June 28, 2005
  • Cast: Kimberly Elise, Shemar Moore, Tyler Perry
  • Director: Darren Grant
  • Inclusion Information: Black actors
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 98 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: drug content, thematic elements, crude sexual references and some violence
  • Last updated: June 2, 2023

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