Saturday, 16 June 2007
DADDY'S LITTLE GIRLS
Daddy’s Little Girls (2006) dir. Tyler Perry
Starring: Idris Elba, Gabrielle Union
Tyler Perry is a superstar hitmaker in the African-American community who wrote a series of successful stage plays about family life in the black America. He scored a megahit with 2003’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”. Next up on his slate of films is “Daddy’s Little Girls” – somewhat of a departure from his grandmother in drag characters he has used for “Diary” and his “Madea” films. The result is a noble effort to create a wholesome family film with positive values, but unfortunately it turns out to be a substandard formula film.
Monty (Idris Elba) is a humble mechanic trying to make ends meet, and support his three little girls from a previous marriage. His ex-wife Jennifer (Tasha Smith) is a pain in the ass drug dealer who’s continually trying to reclaim custody of her kids. At the outset the girls live with Jennifer’s mother, whom we find out is dying of cancer. Before she dies she tells Monty that she wants him to take care of the kids, and not to let Jennifer, her own daughter, retain custody. After she dies the girls come to live with Monty, but when a small household fire puts the girls in the hospital child services see it as an act of parental negligence and shifts custody to Jennifer. It now becomes a bitter custody battle in and out of court for Monty to prove he’s a worthy father.
Meanwhile Monty, has been assigned to be a driver for a young hotshot lawyer, Julia (Gabriella Union). Julia’s a sophisticated workaholic and only has time to date if she’s been set up with a blind date. Of course the blind dates she has are horrible and soon she realizes the man of her dreams has been in front of her face the whole time – Monty. Julia and Monty strike up a loving relationship, but because of the oil and water differences in upbringing, lifestyle and education the road to bliss is difficult.
Since it’s a formula film, it’s not hard to fit the pieces of the puzzle together and figure out the rest of plot and the outcome. As a result it’s extremely predictable. The major failure is the gigantic plot hole of why Jennifer even wants custody of her kids anyways. In the backstory, she’s never wanted them around, and when she does get custody, she’s a complete bitch to them and is constantly telling them to scram. The film is burdened by a lot of on-the-nose dialogue, obvious plotting and horrendous acting. I know it’s not “The English Patient”, but there’s always room for subtly and subtext. Hell, tune into tomorrow’s review of “First Blood” – even that film has more subtlety.
The best part of the film is the chemistry between Julia and Monty. Gabriella Union is terrific in anything she’s done and she perfectly cast as the sophisticated but vulnerable love interest. And Idris Elba who plays Monty, whom I’ve never seen before, is charismatic and magnetic as the loving guilt-ridden father with a touch of romanticism.
The film wasn’t without it’s opportunities to be more than just the cookie-cutter domestic drama that it is. It wastes the talents of Union and Elba by forcing itself into providing the family values over providing original material and thoughtful storytelling.
Buy it here: Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls (Widescreen Edition)