Tyler Perry, a multitalented screenwriter, actor, director, playwright and producer, used his breakthrough character "Madea" to help him launch his highly successfully career. He has parlayed the success of his movies into a multimedia studio empire and was named the highest earning figure in Hollywood from May 2010 through May 2011 by Forbes magazine. His estimated earnings are upwards of $130 million gross which puts him ahead of big Hollywood industry names such as Jerry Bruckheimer and Steven Spielberg. Tyler Perry, however, is also a man with conviction and character who uses his sense of humor to include something in his movies that most Hollywood insiders ignore; faith in God.
Perry's infamous character and alter ego, Mabel "Madea" Simmons, a strong elderly black woman and matriarch of her family, has a no nonsense attitude. "Blessed" with a a sharp tongue, Simmons uses it to reprimand, preach, or bestow unsolicited advice to anyone who happens to be in her path. Her identity is complex, she speaks of God nevertheless indulges in vices such as smoking and drinking; her dialogue consists of mispronounced sometimes garbled words and at times some expletives, and yet the message is clear; plus there is always a feeling that whatever is coming out of Simmons’ mouth comes from a deep yearning to help. With a strong belief in the concept of right and wrong, especially when it pertains to children respecting their elders, Simmons reprimands relatives out of a deep love and devotion to her family, she will also give a tongue-lashing to strangers and exhibits a vigilante justice mentality.
While her demeanor is stern, conveying a tough no nonsense attitude with a strong temper, in reality she has a big heart. There is also a lighter, humorous side to this gun toting old dame, but more importantly there is something else rarely displayed in box office hit characters, a core belief in God. Although her interpretation and delivery of Scripture is nowhere near the theologian level or, for that matter, even a first grade Sunday school class level, it is nonetheless delivered with sincerity, and the point comes across. Regarding his famous character, Perry once said "I can slap Madea on something and talk about God, love, faith, forgiveness, family, any of those."
The first time I watched Perry's character was in the 2005 movie "Diary of a Mad Black Woman." I laughed and even shed a tear or two, but more importantly I related because growing-up, there were a few "Madeas" in my life. I didn't know it then but these strong women had the weight of the world on their shoulders and yet they displayed courage under tremendous hardships and pressure. With a strong work ethic, they knew the meaning of hard work and I never once heard them complain. They believed in discipline because they cared about the welfare and moral character of their children, and more importantly they set God above everyone else. They also had a lighter side to them and could be comical. Then, when it was time to let loose they had the time of their lives. But, just like Perry's character, these women could be temperamental.
His brash, tough talking, no nonsense, gray haired elderly character is how I got to know Tyler Perry's work, and although Simmons is not in all of his movies, I've come to appreciate many of his films. In addition to the movies listed here, Perry's credits include "Precious" and "For Colored Girls" (he is credited as a producer on Precious, and he produced and directed For Colored Girls). He is also involved with the television shows, "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and "Meet the Browns" (he is credited as the director on both, while he also produces, writes, and acts on House of Payne).
Tyler Perry is a gifted artist, who came out of a tumultuous past filled with torment and abuse to become one of the most successful writers, actors, producers and directors in Hollywood (although his studio is in Atlanta). His movies expose the horrors of iniquity and the pain it causes. However, more prevalent in his films is the theme that love conquers hate and faith is the foundation for life.
Here is a list of my favorite Tyler Perry movies, find them all on Amazon!
My Favorite Tyler Perry Movies
2011 Madea's Big Happy Family
A story about the pain of dealing with a terminal illness; the struggles of marriage; overcoming a childhood trauma and its residual damage; and the endeavor to work hard and live a clean and honest life in the midst of drug dealers, temptation, and “easy” money. In the midst of all the seriousness, Medea continues to delight the audience with her shenanigans! She is as feisty and amusing as ever.
2010 Why Did I Get Married Too?
The continuation of a story about four couples who get together for their annual vacation to catch-up with each other and work on their own marriages. Their harmonious trip is interrupted by the arrival of one of the women’s ex-husbands who refuses to leave. While another couple tries to keep their struggles secrete but end up in a battle.
2009 I Can Do Bad All by Myself
When Madea discovers that a teenager and her younger brother (who broke into her home) have no parents, rather than call the authorities, she finds a relative of theirs and asks her to be their guardian. The problem is the relative is a heavy drinker who works all night as a nightclub singer and has an abusive married boyfriend who wants nothing to do with the children.
2009 Madea Goes to Jail
Perry’s fiesty character finds herself in jail after getting in an altercation over a parking space at a local market. Her time behind bars is not wasted as she meets other inmates and helps them with their problems, all while making the audience laugh.
2008 The Family That Preys
Credit: Tyler PerryA story about family, betrayal, and love. Two families are affected by infidelity and a power struggle to take over the family business. Meanwhile, the two matriarchs of each family take a road trip and re-connect as best friends.
2008 Meet the Browns
After receiving notice that the father she never knew has died, a single mother decides to takes her children to Georgia for his funeral. While there she meets her relatives, the Brown family, and learns about true love.
2007 Why Did I Get Married?
The story of four couples who take a yearly vacation together to work on their marriages and ask themselves the question "Why did I get married?" Each couple is dealing with their own struggles which include an unfaithful and verbally abusive husband, a couple struggling to deal with the death of a child, and spouses who spends more time at work than at home.
2007 Daddy's Little Girls
A single father who works as a mechanic and struggles to raise his three daughters falls in love with a successful lawyer. They struggle to overcome their different backgrounds and deal with adversities.
2006 Madea's Family Reunion
While in the process of planning her family reunion, Madea must deal with the mischievous antics of the runaway teen placed in her custody. At the reunion, the wisdom of an elderly relative offers advice and comfort to the entire family.
2005 Diary of a Mad Black Woman
With the façade of the perfect husband and marriage, a woman’s world is shattered when her husband throws her out of their home after she learns he’s been having an affair. The woman gains strength from her grandmother, Madea, and after some struggles learns to move on with her life.
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