by EUN SIL KANG
March 26, 2008
Tyler Perry’s latest movie, “Meet the Browns,” revolves around the themes of love, family and forgiveness, which are common to many of his films. While this film does a reasonable job in presenting these themes, it seems to be missing a pivotal component needed in a comedy — humor.
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment.
Harry (Rick Fox) and Brenda (Angela Bassett) intently listen
in on family stories during a meal with the Browns.
“Meet the Browns” tells the story of Brenda, who lives in Chicago with her three children. After she loses her job, Brenda struggles to pay the bills. One day, she receives a letter indicating her father, whom she never knew, has died. As her life seems to be spiraling out of control, Brenda decides to go to Georgia with her children to not only attend the funeral, but also meet her father’s family, the Browns.
This film does an excellent job showing real-life scenarios of a family who is struggling to survive. For example, Brenda cannot pay her rent, or even afford to properly feed her children. At one point, the heat is turned off in her apartment.
However, this is not the only example that demonstrates why this film is good at showing real-life situations. Throughout the film, the main theme of family and love is found in several scenes. Even though the Browns barely know Brenda and her family, they still take care of her and her children, considering them part of the Brown family. They even pitch in money to help Brenda pay expenses when she goes back to Chicago after the funeral.
Even though the film depicts such tragedies in a plausible manner, it fails to live up to past hilarious, knee-slapping Perry films. While “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” and “Madea’s Family Reunion” released in 2005 and 2006, respectively, were humorous and theme-driven, “Meet the Browns” is nowhere near the caliber of such movies.
Perry’s past films contained humor throughout, with several memorable scenes and quotes. “Meet the Browns” had very brief moments of comedic relief, such as when one of the Browns recalls his father’s life in Chicago during a family meal, and when L.B. Brown “accidentally” shoves his sister, Vera, into their father’s freshly-dug grave because she is acting like a drama-queen. In fact, some of the funniest parts of the film occurred during the credit roll at the end of the movie. In these scenes, Leroy becomes overly enthusiastic during the funeral ceremony. It was a shame to see these scenes cut from the movie. They could have really added to Leroy’s character representation, showing his truly ridiculous and out-of-line behavior, if only they were added to the film.
What was most disappointing about the film had to do with one character who is found throughout Perry’s other films—Madea, the family’s matriarch. She only appeared in one scene in Perry’s current film, in which police are chasing her (reminiscent of O.J. Simpson’s highway police chase). This particular scene was one of the very few entertaining scenes. Just as quickly as Madea showed up in the scene, police quickly apprehended her, and before the audience knew it, the scene was over. It was surprising to see so little of Madea, since she is one of Perry’s most humorous and beloved characters.
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment.
The Brown family gathers for a meal, sharing memories of
their recently deceased father..
The lack of comedic moments could be due to the fact that Madea was rarely seen in “Meet the Browns,” Since she is the main source of humor in Perrys’ films, it was quite questionable why she was not seen more. Perhaps if she had been in more scenes, the film would have been more humorous as Perry’s other films.
But lack of humor is not the only problem with the movie.
The first half of the movie moved very slowly. While it is understandable that Perry wanted to delve deep into Brenda and her family’s life (the struggles they faced, for example), there is no need to stretch it out for nearly half of the movie. As the title “Meet the Browns” suggests, the movie should have focused more on the Brown family, or at least give both Brenda and the Brown family equal standing and representation.
“Meet the Browns” is an utter disappointment. It lacks humor, it lacks the best character, Madea, and it moves too slowly. Even though the film does a good job in presenting real-life struggles, this is not enough to satisfy avid Madea and Perry fans, who watch his films for both thematic and comedic reasons. This is definitely one of those movies in which its DVD extras could be better than several parts of the movie itself.