The Single Moms Club

Directed by: Tyler Perry

Starring: Nia Long, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Cocoa Brown, Amy Smart, and Zulay Henao

Fresh off of his Razzies’ win for A Madea Christmas, Tyler Perry is back in theaters this month with his new film, The Single Moms Club.  Say what you will, but Perry knows his audience and he sticks with his standard themes in this new film.  The Single Moms Club involves a fair amount of sisterhood and female empowerment, as well as some serious male bashing.

The film revolves around five single mothers whose kids attend the same private school.  May (Nia Long) is a journalist who is attempting to have a book published.  She is raising her son Rick (played by Long’s real life son Massai Dorsey) alone because his father is strung out on drugs and missing in action.  Jan (Wendi McLendon-Covey) chose to be artificially inseminated and is raising her daughter alone.  She is struggling with her daughter’s pre-teen shenanigans while trying to make partner in the male dominated world of publishing.  Esperanza (Zulay Henao) is a stay at home mom who is caught between a new romantic relationship, a feisty daughter and a controlling ex-husband.  Lytia (Cocoa Brown) is a waitress trying to make ends meet as she raises three kids by herself.  Lytia’s two eldest sons are in jail and she is trying to save her youngest son from that same fate.  Finally, Hillary (Amy Smart) is going through a bitter divorce and trying to adjust to raising her children alone without the benefit of a wealthy husband.

May, Jan, Esperanza, Lytia and Hillary connect after their kids are caught smoking and spray painting school property. The school reluctantly allows the children to remain enrolled on a probationary basis. However, the principal demands that the moms become more involved in school life, and the ladies are forced to plan a school dance.  As the moms begin to plan the school dance, they realize that they may come from different walks of life, but they are struggling with the same issues as single mothers. They decide to form a support club so that every weekend, one mom watches the kids while the other four women take a break and have fun.  The film follows these five moms as they try to balance kids, work and romance.

The Single Moms Club plays like a Lifetime movie, rather than a feature film.  The plot is fairly predictable and straight-forward.  Moreover, the film plays too easily on stereotypes and typical villains. The exes are drug addicts, missing in action, controlling jerks or just deadbeat dads.  In the workplace, women are subjected to overt gender, age and family responsibility discrimination in a heavy handed fashion.  Perry’s script goes for a simplistic look at single motherhood rather than a more nuanced look at relationships and parenting.  Relationships, divorce, and motherhood are not always black and white.

Moreover, Perry attempts to paint a broad brush over the female characters, continuously underscoring that these five women have different stories, but they are facing the same issues.  No they are not. Amy Smart’s character does not work and she is going through a bitter divorce.  Her housekeeper previously raised her children, took care of her infant and helped her daughter through her first period. Now that she does not have the money that she previously had, she has to take care of her children herself.  Lytia (Brown), on the other hand, has young children, works as a waitress, cannot afford day care and does not have a car.  Yes, both of these women are raising children by themselves and need help.  But they do not have the same issues.  The point that we are being hit over the head with is that despite ethnicity and class, single moms are facing the same concerns.  I just cannot buy that.

There are some bright spots to the film.  Perry appears as himself and not Madea, which is refreshing. Wendi McLendon-Covey also delivers her trademark sarcasm and straight talk to comedic effect. Cocoa Brown is the brash talking Madea-type character in the film, and she delivers some humor, although she is a bit much at times.  Plus, there is some eye candy for the single moms who go to view the film. William Levy in particular plays Manny.  He is unbelievably attractive, and his scenes alone are almost worth the price of admission.  

All in all, you can wait for The Single Moms Club on cable.  I wish I had.  The film earns a 0.09% rating. Have a French Martini with this one.