Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself Movie Poster Image
Sometimes-gritty dramedy has some moving moments.
  • PG-13
  • 2009
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 16 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written by19andlovinit November 28, 2009

other than what i just wrote tyler perrys i can do bad all by myself is an amazing movie

this movie is amazing it has a really good message to it and it helped me to let go of past issues in my life i still think 12 or 13 is a little to young mayber... Continue reading
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 work... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBieberFreakinFever December 21, 2011

Great Movie, But A Little Disturbing

Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself was a great movie. It has some positive messages and some moments of good (and bad) rolemodeling. Although there i... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byHennaGirl19 March 28, 2011


I LOVED THIS MOVIE! Parts to turn from, but I LOVED IT!

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? 

Movie details

  • 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
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

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