Good Deeds
Mary Dieng

Directed By: Tyler Perry

Starring: Tyler Perry, Thandie Newton, Brian J. White, Rebecca Romijn, Jamie Kennedy, Phylicia Rashad, and Gabrielle Union

I will confess, I was not excited when I was asked to review Tyler Perry’s new film Good Deeds.  Not that I don’t like Perry (Mr. Brown aside).  At their core, his films tend to be about redemption and the triumph of the human spirit.  They are, however, often predictable, and the trailer for Good Deeds looked like a made-for-tv movie.  You know the sort, the film where the uptight rich guy meets a regular person from the 99 percent and has a life changing revelation?  Exactly.  Been there, done that.  However, I ended up enjoying the film more than I expected.

Good Deeds is the story of Wesley Deeds (Perry), a wealthy CEO running his family’s profitable business.  Deeds is incredibly reserved and tightly wound due to the tight reigns held by matriarch Wilimena (Phylicia Rashad).  He is struggling with a looming marriage to Natalie (Gabrielle Union), filling his father’s shoes, and watching out for his wayward spoiled brother Walter (Brian White).

Enter Lindsey Wakefield (Thandie Newton), a janitor who works in Deeds’ building.  Lindsey is a recent widow of an Iraq war veteran who has hit hard times.  While struggling to raise her six year old daughter (Jordenn Thompson), she is evicted from her apartment, her wages are garnished by the IRS, and she is forced to live in her car.   Lindsey encounters Deeds and they butt heads immediately.  Deeds is not used to anyone speaking to him frankly and Lindsey is not used to the kindness of strangers.  The rest of the film follows their budding relationship as they both struggle with life’s burdens.

Good Deeds delivers in terms of humor and heart.  Newton is the star of this film as Lindsay’s struggle to keep everything together is both compelling and heart-wrenching.  Like Perry’s other films, Good Deeds has a satisfying end, and many persons in my theater actually applauded as the credits rolled.

However, the film faltered for me on a few fronts.  As an initial matter, Phylicia Rashad was underutilized.  When you have a seasoned Tony Award winning actress with such a great film presence, use her!  Second, I found the soundtrack to be slightly contrived with remakes of “Time After Time” and “Right Here Waiting”.  Cue the eye-roll.  Finally, the biggest issue that I had with Good Deeds is Perry himself.  While Perry and Newton had a believable chemistry, it was hard for me to see Perry as a sexy leading man.  My view of him is so tied to his Madea character, that it is hard for me to take him seriously as the romantic lead.  I cannot see Perry in the shower or in romantic relations with Union without thinking, “Umm, Madea?”

All in all, Good Deeds gets a 0.06% rating.  Watch it with a glass of chardonnay in hand.