Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tyler Perry's Good Deeds [2012]

MPAA (PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing -

Good Deeds (written and directed by Tyler Perry), is a very well-written/crafted movie, both gentle and pointed, that's certainly about our times but which chooses to be positive. 

The film is about two people: Wesley Deeds (played by Tyler Perry) and Lindsey Wakefield (played by Thandie Newton).

Wesley is a 30-something gentleman, 5th generation Ivy League graduate, who now heads his family's investment business from its high rise headquarters in San Francisco's business district.  He has both the temperament and the capability to lead the company well and thus be a good steward of the family's fortune for another generation.  But he's also unhappy.  A good son to his mother Wilemina (played by Phylicia Rashad), a good future husband to his fiance Natalie (played by Gabrielle Union), and a good/competent leader of his family's firm, he's nonetheless going through the motions.  He's good because he's always met expectations, done what he's supposed to do (and done so quite well).

Lindsey turns out to be a cleaning lady in the Deeds' high rise.  Behind on her rent, behind on her bills, alone, with an 7-8 year old daughter Ariel (played by Jordenn Thompson) in tow, she's constantly fighting to "keep it together" even as she's obviously terrified that she's one step away from final disaster. 

Even though Lindsey works for Deeds, the two "meet" for the first time when Lindsey cuts off Wesley in the Deeds' Building's parking garage to park in his reserved spot right by the elevator.  Wesley is annoyed.  His more problematic and certainly more hot-headed younger brother Walter (played by Brian White) is furious.  Lindsey, ever in defensive mode, doesn't care, calls both names and runs up to the building's maintenance office to pick-up her check.  She needs the check to cover her rent.  From this initial encounter, much ensues ...

There are many things to like about this movie.  Yes, the dialogue remains at times a little "stiff/unnatural"  It's obvious that the characters represent "types" rather than complex individuals.  Yet, Perry uses his characters and his film with purpose.  He's both challenging his viewers (and perhaps even the larger society) and doing so in a positive way.

It becomes obvious in the film that Lindsey had no idea of who she was actually working for.  When she runs into Wesley sometime later, having been transferred to the evening shift (Wesley habitually stays late working in the office), she has no idea that he actually runs the firm.  She assumes that "Deeds" who owned the firm had to be some "old white guy."  When she starts getting to know Wesley, it doesn't even enter into her head that she's talking to the CEO of the firm and that he's not even a "flash in the pan" / "upstart" but had inherited the firm from his father who inherited it from his.

On the other side of the coin, at a time when so much anger is being expressed at "the top 1%," both in film (Inside Job, Margin Call, Tower Heist, In Time, Man on a Ledge all good to very good films BTW...) and in society (with the Occupy Wall Street Movement), rather than condemning "the 1%," Tyler Perry (himself a theater mogul) offers "the 1%" a good example in Wesley Deeds.  Wesley uses his money and his power to get involved in Lindsey's life.  And as he does so, he finds himself.  He becomes "Good Deeds."

What a nice, nice film!

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