DIRECTOR: Tyler Perry
CAST: Tyler Perry, Thandie Newton, Gabrielle Union and Phylicia Rashad
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)
Just like Pretty Woman. Without anyone wearing headphones in the bath. This is not another Madea movie. Thank goodness. Good Deeds is, like some hidden gems in Tyler Perry’s showreel, actually a good film.
As has become the norm for the TP who doesn’t sing, the person who sits in the director’s chair actually gets to be cast in the lead role. Perry is Wesley Deeds, the painstakingly good son who takes over the company his father built from scratch and makes it into a Fortune 500 firm.
Wesley is the apple of his snobbish mother’s (played by the evergreen Rashad) eye and the bane of the existence of his brother, Walter (Brian White), the boozing prodigal son who is not quite the CEO but likes to make his presence in the company felt.
He is played with the intolerance and aggression of five Rammstein fans by Brian White, a man who can usually be seen in the role of a heartthrob.
Cast in the stereotypical bad boy role that is intended to be the opposite of Wesley, White’s minor character says things like “That’s what’s wrong with women. You wanna start a fight with a man and then boo-hoo when he fights back.”
He also starts or ends every sentence with the word “Bitch.” Perry could’ve steered clear of the stereotypes on this one. After all, based on their family background which includes childhood trips to the Maldives, there’s no plausible reason why the two brothers would be polar opposites.
Anyway, Wesley, for all intents and purposes – never mind the fact that you are still looking at the bulky Tyler Perry – is perfect. He’s got a perfect penthouse in San Francisco – the cable cars the city is famous for frequently appear in the film. Wesley lives with Natalie (Union), his perfect wife-to-be who is a real estate agent with a body you’d never want to put on the market but keep for yourself if you could, so everything in his life should be perfect, right?
Perfectly predictable is the kind of life Natalie and Wesley find themselves leading.
In one of the opening scenes of this wonderfully crisp, richly coloured (that’s not code for something else) cinematographic treat, Wesley comes out of the shower and before he gets dressed, Natalie can guess exactly what he’s going to say about his shoes, which one of his shirts he’ll go with and what he’ll do with his day – word for word.
At first it’s cute, then it’s just sad. Suffice to say, although they are the picture of perfection, the engaged couple is unhappy.
Then Wesley meets Lindsey (Newton) a fast-talking, streetwise cleaner and single mom to a kid who looks like she could be straight out of the fourth season of The Wire and he falls in love with her.
Even when he’s doing something that he may see as out of character, Wesley is still predictable.
Falling for the woman who lives on the wrong side of the broke-line but still takes no nonsense, not even your own Mr Wealthy. Really? Where have we seen that storyline before?
‘Good Deeds’ is very funny in some parts, a strong, well executed drama all around and a beautiful story to watch unfold. But at the heart of it, this is what some people may find disappointing about Perry’s film: it borrows way too much from other feel-good films that we’ve seen before.
It’s like ‘Pretty Woman’; where the rich guy is saved from a life of monotony and money by saving the life of a woman who hasn’t had much of either.
Wesley puts Lindsey, who couldn’t scrape two Madiba coins together if she knew of their existence, up in a hotel to actually live there until she gets back on to her financially sound feet.
Or like ‘Love Jones’ where Nina and Darius (reprised by Lindsey and Wesley here) try really hard to act like they don’t have chemistry between them but go on that iconic motorcycle ride. I know you remember that scene. Now picture it in broad daylight. Right.
Oh, there’s also a scene where a down-and-out Lindsey and her daughter have to sleep in a public restroom – just like who?
You guessed it, Will Smith and his son in ‘Pursuit Of Happyness’. Even the soundtrack, which fits the respective scenes like a glove, is not entirely original.
Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’ is covered by jazz singer Cassandra Wilson in one place and Patty Austin sings Des’ree’s ‘You Gotta Be’ elsewhere. The covers don’t end there, and they are not out of place, they are just indicative of Perry using nostalgia (both sonically and visually) to clinch the deal in liking the film instead of being original.
Although, I have a question: why do they censor the N-word within the movie after Wesley has called off the wedding, stood up to his brother, let his mother down gently and finally got his groove back by bumping 2Pac’s ‘How Do U Want It’ loudly?
The rhythmically challenged Perry awkwardly dances to the hip hop song and you almost forget that earlier, he said to Lindsey, “Who is ‘Two-pee-ay-see?’ The rapper guy?” Almost. ‘Good Deeds’ is a good drama with a happy ending about follow- ing your heart and not living a lie.
If you don’t mind the constant references to other films in this movie then you’re certainly going to love it.
If you liked … ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘Maid In Manhattan’ … then watch this.