1. I’m classifying this movie an as of yet unnamed new brand of terrible. For Colored Girls exists in a strange nebulous territory because it is only good when there is absolutely no evidence of Tyler Perry. The performances are all amazing and the monologues (ripped straight from the source) are undeniably moving. Fundamentally, they should be impossible to screw up. Perry makes sure he tries as hard as possible. I don’t know what you call it when you can admire each performance and each monologue and then still think it’s one of the worst movies you’ve ever seen.
2. Janet Jackson looks and sounds so much like Michael in this movie that it’s scary.Her performance also verges on kabuki which is kind of fascinating.
3. I’ve seen Loretta Devine in a lot of stuff and I just now realized that nobody on this planet says the word “shit” as well as her.
4. I can’t even begin to explain how much Tyler Perry fails at movie making. I already mentioned that the monologues/poems are gorgeous, but they’re forced to co-exist in some terrible 70s sitcom world where people are basically speaking jive on sets that look like they came from Sesame Street. He treats the material like a battering ram, pushing each point forward with such direct and literal force that it feels like an insult to even call it bad melodrama. The original stage version wasn’t even so much a play as it was a choreographed poem. The words are beautiful and poignant, made even better by the actresses, but they simply can’t exist in the constraints of a movie and certainly not in the ham-fisted world Tyler Perry created. And when we do get those rare glimpses at literary transcendence, Perry makes sure to frame them in TV-style closeups, robbing them of whatever chance of cinematic power that could have ever existed. And I really don’t think Perry gets how much he’s botched this. He’s turned the play’s survivors into victims, focused on the abusers entirely too much, and essentially turns rape and abuse into spectacle.
5. Oh, did I say all the performances were good? I forgot about Whoopi. I’m going to pay extra attention to The View on Monday to see if I can spot any leftover chunks of scenery in her teeth.
6. I think Anika Noni Rose looks prettier every time I see her. It’s her, Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, Kerry Washington and Kimberly Elise that walk away with highest marks here.
7. Obviously completely consumed by his own self-loathing and hatred, Tyler Perry ads a “brother on the down low” subplot to Janet Jackson’s story. Perry treats this character as nothing more than a sexual perversion and as a walking punishment to an overly emasculating female. Not only is this characterization a direct attack at gays, it also carries an oddly anti-woman message as Perry lazily links the character’s sexual indiscretions with his own loss of masculinity. Naturally our gay villain gives her HIV. Being forced to sit in an audience that greeted interactions like “I don’t let men bend me over” “Oh so you’re doing the bending!?” with uproarious laughter and having to listen to some bitch behind me hiss “He gave you that disease” with a furious venom, watching For Colored Girls literally felt like assault to me. I really pity Tyler Perry. It’s clear that I dislike him, but after watching this movie, it’s quite evident that nobody is hating Tyler Perry as much as Tyler Perry.
8. Despite adapting the story to modern times, apparently it’s still really in vogue to get back alley abortions. The alley is full of barking pit bulls and maniacally laughing crackheads just in case YOU DIDN’T GET IT.
9. If you’ve never been in the theater for a Tyler Perry movie before, let me just tell you that the amount of tongue clicking is astounding.
10. We can thank Microsoft Paint for the opening titles. If I said that the word “Colored” actually faded in and out of a rainbow gradient, would you believe me?
I’d still actually recommend seeing this on DVD. There are moments of beauty that arrive like hiccups. Elsewhere, it’s actually a bit encouraging to walk away from a movie with full appreciation for the conventional rules of Hollywood cinema. Giving Tyler Perry a camera is like giving a camera to a person whose only exposure to moving pictures is church sermons on closed-circuit televisions.