Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself

  • Review Date: September 13, 2009
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sometimes-gritty dramedy has some moving moments.
  • Review Date: September 13, 2009
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 113 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


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.


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.


Mild swearing, including one use of "s--t" and several instances of words like "ass," “hell,” "damn," and “shut up.” Also "oh my God."


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.

Parents Need to Know

Parent need to know that this dramedy based on a play by Tyler Perry 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.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

When her mother dies, leaving her to care for her defiant niece (Hope Olaide Wilson) and two nephews, April (Taraji P. Henson) wants to do nothing more than hide. April thinks that she's been doing "fine" on her own -- singing at a nightclub, swilling booze when her set’s over, and coddling her married, surly boyfriend (Brian J. White). But her mother’s pastor (Marvin Winans) and neighbor (Gladys Knight), and her bartender friend (Mary J. Blige) won’t let her stay astray, and neither will her new roommate, Sandino (Adam Rodriguez), a soulful carpenter who’s repairing April's home for room and board. (Madea, played by Perry, naturally makes a pivotal appearance.) Ultimately, April must want to change -- not just for everybody else, but also for herself.

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 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about April. Is she meant to be considered a role model? What prevents her from embracing those who need her and/or care for her? Why does she have so many vices?

  • What message do you think the movie is ultimately sending? Is Perry

  • saying that you need to have a partner by your side to take on life’s

  • challenges? Is that par for the course for more mainstream Hollywood

  • movies?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 11, 2009
DVD release date:January 12, 2010
Cast:Adam Rodriguez, Taraji P. Henson, Tyler Perry
Director:Tyler Perry
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:mature thematic material involving a sexual assault on a minor, violence, drug references and smoking

This review of Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byHennaGirl19 March 28, 2011


I LOVED THIS MOVIE! Parts to turn from, but I LOVED IT!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Parent of a 17 year old Written bylksoejgo0ejg0n4 October 11, 2009

Loosing grip with today's issues.

Sends a terrible message to others that a woman has to have a good man, drugs, drinking, and attitude of Madea just makes this very questionable from other works he has done in the past.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Teen, 17 years old Written byjazzy pink September 22, 2009


i love this movie
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide