Tyler Presents: Ass-imony
It just struck me that I have never written a review for any one of Tyler Perry’s EIGHTEEN directed films since 2006. I’ve seen a handful and was mildly entertained by Why Did I Get Married?, Madea’s Family Reunion, and Boo! A Madea Halloween; but I’ve also laughed my ass off with Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor for being amazingly tone deaf, over-the-top and melodramatic as hell in between all the calls to go to church. That last critique has plagued many of Perry’s films, so lately he’s been putting a little less talk about Jesus while simultaneously upping the melodrama to cartoonish levels. And for today’s film Acrimony, he reunites with one of his old leads, Taraji P. Henson, fresh off her lucrative success off of Empire and Hidden Figures. So how does the “New” Tyler Perry mesh with the now hotly successful actress? Let’s dive in to what may be one of the prolific director’s strangest films to date (and fans of his know that’s a high bar).
So, our story begins with the embittered Melinda (Taraji P. Henson) being forced to go to anger management counseling after violating a restraining order. The offscreen psychologist asks Melinda to start from the beginning as to the source of her rage, and so Melinda recounts how she met her husband Robert Gayle (Lyriq Bent) in college. While everything was usually sunshine and butterflies, Robert also cheated on Melinda once with a girl named Diana. Which brought out a fire that Melinda could not contain as she practically trashed Robert’s home for his infidelity.
While they patched things up, trouble continue to stir just under the surface as Robert continuously tried to peddle a self-charging battery to a single corporation while also being unable to hold down a job due to a felony on his record at 16-years-old. This forces Melinda to blow much of her inheritance from her mother on many of Robert’s mounting expenses; but Melinda, to the chagrin of her exasperated family, continues to stand by her husband no matter how loveless it has become over 18 years of marriage. But after suspecting that he cheated on her once again with Diana (Crystle Stewart), she divorces him…right before he gets millions of dollars for his invention and hooking up with Diana subsequently right afterwards. Chaos ensues.
Look, Tyler Perry isn’t…the best writer out there. But he knows his audiences love melodrama, so he injects a great big fuck of it into many of his works. For Acrimony, the melodrama is more of a slow boil, with an emphasis on the word slow because the first hour feels like an eternity has passed by. Now the first half of this movie primarily deals with setting up all the characters’ breakdown in the latter half of the film but the problem for this film is that the setup isn’t nearly as intriguing as the payoff. See, the characters of Melinda and Robert are shown to have drifted apart after 18 years in the same cycle of Melinda pulling double shifts to make ends meet and Robert failing to get his invention noticed by the same company for two decades (more on that detail in a bit). But nothing funny, dramatic, or any spark of life occurs during this hour, so you feel like taking a snooze more than anything.
The gears on this roller coaster finally get going once Diana re-enters the fray, and even then her introduction was handled clumsily. You see, we first encounter the love triangle when they were all in college with the characters played by vastly different thespians, such as Ajiona Alexus for Melinda, Antonio Madison for Robert, and Shavon Kirksey for Diana. The latter of which only has one line in the entire movie, and you barely get to see her face before she’s rushed out of frame. This is problematic since you really don’t get why Robert would cheat on Melinda, and Diana isn’t properly introduced so you have no idea who this lady is supposed to be when the character reappears halfway through the film’s run time with Crystle Stewart now portraying her. But once she’s reintroduced into Robert and Melinda’s life, there’s barely any setup to show how Robert and Diana end up reconnecting emotionally to marry each other mere months after seeing each other again. I’m putting so much focus on her character as she’s essentially the inciting incident for many of the film’s turns and Perry completely turns Diana into an afterthought.
Speaking of afterthoughts, the whole basis for Melinda’s rage in the second half of the film is completely unearned and nonsensical. Since Melinda is narrating this movie, we hear her internal thoughts about what lead to the downfall in her relationship to Robert. The problem is, most of what she’s describing doesn’t match with what we’re seeing on screen. She looks back at her life with Robert and describes as a money leech who sweet talked his way into Melinda’s wallet, but the film shows him as a pathetic wretch who’s merely aimless in his ambitions but far from the Casanova who can convince a woman to give up everything for him. On top of that, Taraji’s P. Henson’s narration is filled pure venom and spite, which tonally contradicts the puppy dog romance and clumsy melodrama you’re presented with.
Actually now that we’re on the topic of Taraji P. Henson, I need to say that there many places where she almost could have saved this production single-handedly. She’s far and away the best thespian in the whole piece, and there’s one really well made scene where she blows off Robert after finally being fed up with his excuses for years of sapping her finances and giving her a passionless marriage, by calmly explaining her reasons for divorce in a barely-contained rage. It’s the closest this film gets to being watchable sadly, because the lead actress’ performance takes a noticeable dip in the second half of the movie when she discovers her ex-husband is now engaged to his former paramour and…she. Loses. All. Friggin. Sanity. Henson is shown drunkenly swaying around her home while cutting up pictures of the new couple, while acting a furious badger mole whenever her family and best friend try to comfort her. At this point, I knew the fault resided entirely with Tyler Perry, who’s just not a good writer at all.
For more examples as to why Perry’s writing and plotting is atrocious, let’s go back to the lovely invention Robert has going on; because his character is written like a complete friggin’ moron despite walking out of college with an engineering degree. So Robert’s dream is to create a self-charging battery that may or may not work, and it’s established that he frequently stands outside of a company called Prescott that can…actually the film is pretty unclear what he’s trying to do with Prescott. I guess he’s trying to sell the invention to this company, but for 20 years he stands outside the offices of Prescott and mails them non-stop videos of his self-charging battery in action. Now, I’ve submitted my fair share of resumes when job hunting in the past, but I DO NOT send the same damn application for 20 friggin years to the same damn company if I was already politely denied an interview. Hell, I wouldn’t waste 20 minutes trying to get a hold of an employer, not when there are literally hundreds of other potential ports of call. And Tyler Perry expects you, the audience, to simply buy that one man could waste 20 years of his life trying to market the same invention to the same company…all this lazy writing and we haven’t even begun to dug into the meat and potatoes of how insane the plot gets in the second half.
So bit of a spoiler warning from here on out, because I really can’t slag off this film as efficiently. Just jump ahead past the picture below to gaze upon the Eldritch horror of Tyler Perry’s psyche.
So, Robert FINALLY ends up getting his invention sold to Prescott for a lucrative sum of millions of dollars, after years of literal decades of harassing the company and its employees to notice him. A tad unrealistic, but we’re in soap opera territory so I’ll go with it. Even more unbelievable is that he returns to Melinda to present her a check of $10 million as well as the deed to her mother’s home, which she lost in foreclosure on account of funding Robert’s project. Keep in mind, this occurs after the couple had already legally divorced and Robert willingly gave up all the possessions he had to Melinda leaving the guy homeless. A stroke of luck on par with winning the lottery, you might think for Melinda; but her character doesn’t care she’s now a literal millionaire as she now resents the fact that Robert has moved on to another woman that he showers with all the gifts and amenities promised to Melinda when she was in college.
Despite multiple pleas that Robert did not cheat on Melinda again after the one time before they were married, the latter does not believe her husband and is convinced that he was cheating on her in the twilight of their marriage. Even as multiple family members and her best friend urge her to just move on with her life now that she’s pretty much set with $10 million in her bank account, that’s not enough for Melinda. So she begins to stalk the couple, burn Diana’s dress with hydrochloric acid, and violate a restraining order. But this only the tip of the iceberg of her fury. Because then we get to the end of the film, where any semblance of sense is rocketed into the goddamn sun.
So Robert and Diana are enjoying a night stargazing aboard their yacht which is manned by six crew members. While Diana is in this bathroom, Melinda appears before Robert wearing his wife’s wedding dress and holding a gun to his temple. Before you have a chance to say, “Shit just got real,” Melinda accidentally shoots Robert and forces all six crew members to jump overboard in the pure darkness of the night. Soon after, Robert is able to know Melinda and her gun also overboard, after which he pleads with Diana to stop the ship, get a life raft, and rescue the crew members to help patch him up before he bleeds out. While Diana is away, Melinda somehow gets back on board the ship completely friggin’ dry, and proceeds to chase Robert around the ship with a goddamn axe like it’s Daffy Duck cartoon. Which coincidentally is precisely how Melinda subsequently gets taken out when her leg gets caught in an anchor chain, which she accidentally releases and subsequently drowns. Just as the crew returns with seven crew members in tow. Just in case you were wondering Tyler Perry didn’t even give a rat’s ass about consistency.
People, this movie is trash. Pure and simple. I tried giving it a chance, but the first half of the film is too boring to recommend and the absurd second half just seals this movie’s fate with its pure incompetence. Taraji P. Henson is absolutely wasted here as she’s forced to say godawful line after idiotic line. The movie’s climax is the only thing remotely watchable on a so-bad-it’s-good angle, but it’s not worth putting up with an hour and 45 minutes to get to. Sorry Tyler Perry, but for your first go on the After Lobby, you get…
SOME OL’ BULLSHIT
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