THE SINGLE MOM’S CLUB
DIRECTOR: Tyler Perry
CAST: Nia Long, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Cocoa Brown, Zulay Henao, William Levy, Eddie Cibrian, Amy Smart, Terry Crews
CLASSIFICATION: 7 PG
RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
This latest effort from the prolific film-maker depicts the many problems faced by five single mothers.
You have to give Tyler Perry credit: He knows how to touch all the demographic bases. The list of central characters in his newest film includes whites, blacks and Hispanics, spanning the economic spectrum from lower to middle to upper class. The only things left out of The Single Moms Club are genuine humour and emotion.
Directed, written and produced by Perry, this effort concerns five single mothers whose children all attend an exclusive Atlanta prep school.
They are a disparate lot indeed, sharing only the problems attendant to raising a child without a man. Struggling journalist May (Long) is dealing with an increasingly rebellious teenage son whose father has long gone awol; career woman Jan (McLendon-Covey) is wrestling with the increasing demands of her high-powered corporate position; waitress Lytia (Brown) is desperate to keep her son out of trouble, as his two siblings are already in prison; the gorgeous Esperanza (Henao) has to keep her relationship with her devoted boyfriend (Levy) secret because of her domineering ex (Cibrian) who threatens to kick her out of her house; and recently divorced wealthy housewife Hillary (Smart) is forced to fire her maid and assume the task of raising her kids herself.
After all of their children are threatened with expulsion for committing various offences, the women are blackmailed into forming a committee to plan an upcoming school fundraiser. Although initially divided by socio-economic tensions, they soon find common ground and become thick as thieves, helping each other deal with their troubled offspring and, not so incidentally, find a man.
And there are plenty of men circling. May finds herself relentlessly pursued by TK (Perry), whose sensitivity is matched only by his ability to quickly fix her car. Lytia is even more relentlessly pursued by Branson (Crews), a personal trainer who proudly brings her a funeral wreath; Hillary finds romance with a hunky new neighbour (Ryan Eggold); and Jan, who’s been celibate for a decade, is set up with a handsome divorcee (Sean Carrigan).
As he does so often, Perry here uneasily blends melodrama – a crisis is sparked when one of the children suddenly goes missing – with attempts at broad humour that mostly fall flat. The courtship scenes between the boisterous Brown – who basically plays a de facto Madea – and the endlessly exuberant Crews degenerate into forced slapstick. And a lengthy flirtatious encounter between Smart and Carrigan features the sort of tired double-entendres that would barely make teenagers snicker.
The tonal inconsistency and plodding pace result in utter boredom, with Perry’s efforts to tie all of the loose strands together into a pseudo happy ending smacking of desperation. The performers mainly flounder in their one-dimensional roles, vainly trying to wring laughs and emotion from the contrived proceedings.
As usual, the direction is amateurish, using the constantly blaring, syrupy musical score to compensate for the flat television-style visuals and editing. Even the typical flubs on display during the end credit outtakes fail to provide amusement.
There’s undoubtedly a good film to be made about the trials and tribulations of single motherhood. But despite its canny, if derivative title, The Single Moms Club isn’t it.
If you like any of the Madea movies, you will like this.