Tyler Perry's new film is bad all by itself

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Like so many of his movies, Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself, starts with a scene featuring Madea (Perry) and her ornery old sidekick Joe (Perry). The two wake up one night to find a group of three kids have broken into their house to steal Joe’s old VCR. Furious, they sit the young ones down and try to teach them some manners, all the while having a go at each other whenever they can sneak in a crack or two. It’s a promising opening to a movie that quickly resorts to Perry’s predictable melodrama. We then meet the children’s aunt April (Taraji P. Henson), a gorgeous lounge club singer who’s taken up a married man (Brian J. White). She reluctantly adopts the kids when their grandmother unexpectedly dies. She also lets a hunky young Columbian immigrant named Sandino (Adam Rodriguez) live in her basement in exchange for doing some work around the house. You don’t need to have a doctoral degree to know what’s coming next. April’s married man shows his true colors and turns out to be a total jerk; April falls for her hunky handyman; and the kids come to terms with the death of their grandmother. Oh, and during the scenes that take place in the club where April works, her friend Tanya (Mary J. Blige) belts out one powerful, message-heavy R&B ballad after another. The comedy bits in the movie are really funny (Madea’s half-baked account of the biblical story of Peter walking on water is hilarious) but the dramatic ones aren’t (at one point, April screams out “I want to learn to love the right way!”) in this film based on a Perry play that we can only imagine is just as painfully forced. **

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