A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this drama from filmmaker Tyler Perry deals with incredibly intense, disturbing issues -- including rape, domestic abuse, infidelity, and unplanned pregnancy. The story has a lot of sexuality, language, and violence -- the most difficult-to-watch scenes center on a rape and two children being killed by their own father. While the sex scenes aren't overtly graphic, there are lots of flashes of skin, plus passionate kissing and discussions of promiscuity. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and "a--hole." Still, despite all of the mature themes, the movie's messages about standing up for yourself and asking for help may be worthwhile for older teenagers, especially young women, to take to heart.
What's the story?
Based on poet Ntozake Shange's Tony-nominated 1975 play, FOR COLORED GIRLS followsthe intersecting lives of eight different African-American women, from young, naive Nyla (Tessa Thompson) to world-weary 60-something apartment manager Gilda (Phylicia Rashad). Tyler Perry weaves the characters' independent vignettes together by placing three of them in the same apartment building: there's Gilda; Tangie (Thandie Newton), a sexually aggressive bartender who lives next door to Gilda; and Crystal (Kimberly Elise), a put-upon mother whose partner is an abusive, unstable Iraq war veteran. They're investigated by social worker Kelly (Kerry Washington); meanwhile, Crystal is the personal assistant to high-powered magazine publisher Jo (Janet Jackson), and Tangie is the estranged daughter of religious zealot Alice (Whoopi Goldberg), whose other daughter is Nyla, an aspiring dancer who owes her college ambitions to her dance studio's owner, Yasmine (Anika Noni Rose). Popping up in all their lives is free-clinic nurse Juanita (Loretta Devine). As the women go through their daily lives, they wind up facing some horrible tragedies -- rape, abandonment, abortion, infidelity, discrimination, and even death.
Is it any good?
This is Perry's best film so far. He extracts fabulous performances from his all-star cast. The actresses -- particularly Devine, Rashad, and Elise -- are excellent (the only slightly off-note performance is Goldberg's, because her character's religious cult's beliefs aren't explained, and her devotion rings slightly false). As the award-winning theater veterans of the ensemble, Devine and Rashad are an absolute pleasure to watch. With an arch of the eyebrow or a jut of the hip, they steal every scene from their younger co-stars.
Given that Shange's "choreo-poem" featured unconnected poems, Perry was smart to thread them together through the apartment building and other coincidences. But his compulsion to include long, poetic monologues -- accompanied by an emotional score -- only works part of the time. Other times it takes the viewer out of the story and creates an overwhelming sense of melodrama, both predictable and occasionally cringe-inducing. And then there's the dialogue (added by Perry) that just doesn't work at all, like a climactic exchange between Jo and her husband Carl (Omari Hardwick), in which the words "sorry" and "sorries" are traded at least 50 times. It reduces what should have been a powerful scene into a ridiculous, predictable conversation. With a tighter script and a little less of the soliloquies, this could have been an award-worthy film. As it is, it must settle for being Perry's best so far.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about what it means to be a woman. What does each character's story explain about women's struggles with men, their families, and each other?
What impact do the film's violent scenes have?
How do the different women deal with race? What about relationships?
How does this movie compare to Tyler Perry's other films?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.