Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In TYLER PERRY'S I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF, April (Taraji P. Henson) wants to do nothing more than hide when her mother dies, leaving her to care for her defiant niece (Hope Olaide Wilson) and two nephews. 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 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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about April's character in Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself. 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?
Do you think the movie's message is chauvinistic? Does April need a "good man" to help her change for the better?
- In theaters: September 11, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: January 12, 2010
- Cast: Adam Rodriguez, Taraji P. Henson, Tyler Perry
- Director: Tyler Perry
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Drama
- 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
For kids who love dramas
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
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.