For Colored Girls
Grade: D –
Director: Tyler Perry
Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, Kimberly Elsie, Tessa Thompson, and Phylicia Rashad
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours
Far more befitting its East Village coffee house origins, For Colored Girls, the film adaptation of playwright/poet Ntozake Shange’s 1975 play, gets a histrionic, pedestrian treatment from director-screenwriter-producer Tyler Perry. Nine
The laudable aim of illuminating the everyday travails of African-American women is undercut by Perry’s hyper-reality in which every man is a philanderer, rapist, murderer, pedophile, and/or HIV-positive closeted homosexual. Meanwhile, the women left in their wake – portrayed here by Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine, Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, Kimberly Elsie, Tessa Thompson, and Phylicia Rashad – are conventional cutouts designed to further Perry’s moralizing, female-centric viewpoint, but ill-equipped to bridge Shange’s poetry and Perry’s prosaic prose.
The acting fluctuates between rudderless and overblown, and then there’s Jackson, whose makeup and costumes make her look like mannequin and who now creepily sounds just like her late brother Michael.
If anyone watches For Colored Girls waiting to exhale, don't hold your breath.