A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Perry’s messages of faith and hope shine through, which many viewers may find inspiring. But his chauvinism does, too: Main character April can’t seem to be saved without a man, and though she’s a strong character, a not-so-subtle undercurrent leaves the impression that a woman needs a “good man” to make her way through this world intact.
Positive Role Models
The main character spends much of the movie being cold and selfish, even heartless (and her boyfriend is even nastier) -- but she ultimately experiences a huge sea change/epiphany. The supporting characters are actually far more appealing, with big hearts and obvious (to the point of being nearly one-dimensional) goodness.
Violence & Scariness
A married man makes inappropriate, aggressive advances toward a teenager -- to the point of almost raping her. Two men end up in a bloody fight. A woman nearly kills a man by electrocuting him. Two comic characters jokingly threaten to dispense corporal punishment to set kids straight.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman messes around with a married man, but the audience doesn’t really see anything except them in bed under the covers. In another scene, a man and a woman share a gentle kiss.
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Mild swearing, including one use of "s--t" and several instances of words like "ass," “hell,” "damn," and “shut up.” Also "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
While characters are seen dressed to the nines, there’s little mention of brands -- though the Heineken label gets screen time.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A woman practically chain smokes her way through the movie; she also drinks so much that her friend calls her on it. A joint is mentioned but never seen on screen.
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Parents Need to Know
Parent need to know that Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself is a dramedy based on a play by Tyler Perry that is both gritty and righteous. Although, like Perry's other films, it ends on a decidedly optimistic (if unsurprising) note. The main character is an iffy role model throughout much of the movie -- she smokes, drinks, and shows no compassion toward her sister's young children, who all need her help. The movie also examines the tragic toll of child abuse and includes a scene of near-sexual assault on a teenage girl. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Say what you will about Perry's movies -- preachy, too earnest, formulaic -- there's no denying his ability to pick a first-rate cast. Movie after movie, he rescues predictable plots with performances grounded in gravitas. Henson commands the screen, making what's treacly truthful. And she sings beautifully, too, like she did in the career-making Hustle & Flow. Perry also elicits powerful performances from Blige and Knight; in fact, the playwright/actor/director has a knack for turning female singers into solid, sometimes even spectacular, actresses.
Still, it's hard not to notice the fact that Perry's films tend to offer the same hopeful-yet-chauvinistic message: That wayward women can be saved not only by God but the love of a good man. Can't a woman find her way on her own? Speaking of Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself 's said "good man" -- Sandino's devotion to April seems to come out of nowhere, a plot point that neither makes sense nor is believable. April acts heinously in front of him, and yet he declares her warm and loving. Perhaps he's blinded by his affections. But the audience surely isn't.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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