Well, I liked the movie until we left and went out to eat.
I guess that’s what happens when you go to the movie with a licensed and practicing psychologist.
Aside from the baptismal scene of Tyler Perry’s latest break into Hollywood, I had really thought the movie was a good, borderline great movie. It had great oneliners “He’s a Cartwright!” and “It’s sisters like you that give us all a bad name” and I could go on, but I don’t want to TOTALLY ruin it for you all. It was good to see Robin Givens finally play what amounted to a decent black woman in a movie after always playing a bitch and having her character relish in the bitch status.
But then when went to go eat.
And through the conversation, it dawned on us that this was almost a basic slave narrative. Lemme break it down to ya like a fraction.
1. The white master was sleeping with the black slave and subsequently had a kid by the black slave, that in many respects was raised by the slave community. Clearly Sanaa Lathan’s character wasn’t all that interested with her husband, let alone her son.
Um, if I can park here parenthetically…
Black women always hollering about there are no good black men, and blah blah blah. One of the reasons suggested to me was that too often black men have this ideal of white women as the epitome of beauty and therefore are passing the sisters by. Let’s review this, what is the black woman’s ideal of beauty? Cole Hauser or Wentworth Miller? I’m not trying to turn this into a color thing, because clearly, that seems to be the most visited post on this blog, even though I did that blog back in like April, but maybe this whole idea of beauty needs to go both ways–I’m just saying. Also, let the record show that Alfre Woodard is married to a white guy and Sanaa Lathan in her last, somewhat flop of a movie, called “Something New” was all about her falling in love with a white guy.
I’m done parenthetically speaking.
Seriously guys, what was the character motivation for William Cartwright to do what he did? Meh, dare I say white privilege?!?! LMAO. No, I’m not suggesting that, but it does reek of the slave owner having his way with the slave women, and the black men and husband not being able to stop it–or in this case, totally unaware of it.
2. The ultimate emasculation of the black man by the slave owner. Come on now, sleeping with the man’s wife after offering him a job just totally emasculates the man and he doesn’t even know his testicles are getting cut off. We all knew something was up from jump even before the wedding, and definitely at the wedding when William looks at Andrea and bites his lip.
And if I can parenthetically park again,
Why is it that Andrea just tore down her husband so viciously? It was brutal, and like an emasculated man he just took it, and took it and took it until he slapped the piss outta her. (I wish it wasn’t him who had slapped her, but she needed to be slapped nonetheless.) She even referred to him as “some gentleman” at the gala.
3. The white mistress befriending the black mammy. Personally I think there was much more of a friendship there than possibly what took place in a slave situation, but nonetheless Charlotte and Alice’s relationship does hearken back to a slave-slaveowner relationship. Just look at “Gone With the Wind” and look at Mammy’s character who was considered the “real head of the household.” Clearly Alfre Woodard was instrumental in holding both families together.
The following are other general observations, seeing as how they fall outside the typical slave narrative portrayed above:
4. There was the underlying gratuitous sexual nature of the movie that manifested itself in some uncomfortable ways. Robin Givens character would NOT have been showing all of that cleavage in the work place. Personally, I was somewhat distracted in the first board room scene where the battle lines were drawn between Given’s character and Hauser’s character. Also there was a shot coming from a male, that uncomfortably had a bulge in his pants, and that was the cinematographical choice of the director to film from that angle as Charlotte and Alice climbed out of the car to walk to the creek to get her baptized (and I just wanna know did the preacher do it in the name of “Jesus Christ” or in the name of the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”)
Not to mention that Rockmond Dunbar’s character had a clear infatuation with Tyler Perry’s character. We surmised at the table that it was a result of Chris not having a real relationship at home with his own wife. Others said there was some underlying homosexual tension on Chris’ part, but I didn’t quite see that, but again we’re going to school in Atlanta and our understandings of sexuality have been so skewed it’s not even funny.
5. I still think that Tyler Perry did a good job with this movie. It was nice to see some more A-list actors in his movies. I’m still just waiting on him to snag Denzel in one of his movies and then Tyler will officially have “made it” in that sense. I was quite moved by this movie on all levels and thankfully, there weren’t any jumps of reality that I felt I had to make, which usually I feel I do. For example in “Why Did I Get Married” I just didn’t really see the feasibility of a single woman driving from Atlanta to Colorado by herself, and I also think there was an issue of time in that: that’s like a 24 drive, and they never showed her spending the night once or being wholly exhausted when she showed up.
I thought this time, he kept the melodrama to himself. I didn’t see once scene where it was just over the top acting. But, again, this time, he’s sharpened his own acting skills and all the people in this movie have been in Hollywood for quite sometime now and have solidified themselves as real actors.
In unrelated movies…
Per the previews, I’m looking forward to “Lakewood Terrace” to watch Samuel “I Never Turn Down a Script EVAR” L. Jackson act a COMPLETE fool–aint he always playing some crazy ass man? Also, there was the “The Secret Life of Bees” starring Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and solidfying the look of Jennifer Hudson really being from the South Side of the Chi. If it wasn’t for Dakota Fanning who for some reason just irks the crap outta me, I’d be hella hyped about this movie. But I’m sure I’ll go see it anywayz.
Do you think Tyler’s movie are supposed to have life imitating art or art imitating reality? Because no one can deny that this movie is more or less believable, but does he, or anyone else, have a responsibility to show archetypical movies as opposed to stereotypical movies?
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL
2 thoughts on “UNN Movie Review: This Movie ‘Preys’ Upon Old American Themes”
It is really funny that you did this one… I just posted mine take of the film on Facebook and I must say we pretty much agreed on every level, except, I did not think it was all that great of a movie. It was fairly decent for what it was.
I will say, Sanaa’s character really embarrassed me. I felt completely ashamed with what she had going on and that relationship between Old Lady Cartwright and Alice; well I swear I had a flashback to Imitation of Life. I can’t blame Tyler for having those characters’s run parallel with Lora and Annie; they were the epitome of “interracial friendships.” Anyway, great analysis!
I too have written a response to this film in my own blog, talking specifically about the class issues that crop up in Tyler Perry’s films. I too liked The Family that Preys when I left the theater, but when I thought about it again less than a week later, I found myself truly disliking it, actually. The slave narrative reading you give is very keen, and I picked up on all of these aspects. I am interested in the ways in which Chris’s emasculation allows Perry to create an instance in which he does the one thing he’s always opposed in his other films and plays: condone male on female domestic violence (i.e. the very violent slap that Sanaa’s character receives from her husband). I was floored by that slap, so angered was I, for several reasons: that Perry could condone such violence and that Perry could create such a one-dimensionally demonic female character and thus leave us feeling that she deserved such a vicious slap. As usual, Perry had to punish the immoral, selfish, etc. middle class black person, though usually this person is a dark-skinned black man in his films and plays. His films reveal a seething hatred of the black middle class.
I didn’t read the homosexuality aspect, but I can see it there somewhat. Oh, and Lakeview Terrace: hated it, for a variety of reasons, though it was well-acted.