‘The Single Moms Club’ Review: Moviegoers — and Moms Especially – Deserve Better

'The Single Moms Club' Review: Moviegoers — and Moms Especially – Deserve Better

Only Tyler Perry can make a movie that's laughably sexist and racist and still completely dull

For evidence of how bad working actresses have it in contemporary Hollywood, look no further than the cavalcade of talented female performers who have subjected themselves to toiling in the flat-footed melodramas of Tyler Perry; if Alfre Woodard, Kathy Bates and Sanaa Lathan (“The Family That Preys”), Thandie Newton and Gabrielle Union (“Good Deeds”) and Taraji P. Henson (“I Can Do Bad All By Myself”) aren't getting better offers than to star in Perry's hacky, retrograde, low-budget movies, times are tough indeed.

The most misused performer in his latest, “The Single Moms Club,” would have to be the talented comic Wendi McClendon-Covey; what few laughs this new movie offers are clearly her own spontaneous inventions. (Just watch the closing credits of the film. Or of “Bridesmaids.” In fact, just watch “Bridesmaids” again and forget this one entirely.)

Also read: Tyler Perry Says So Long, Madea, Hello Oprah: How the Cross-Dressing Mogul Has Fared at the Box Office

When she's unleashed, McClendon-Covey gets a mischievous snarl on her face and pops out some brilliantly funny non sequiturs. The rest of the time, unfortunately, she plays a career woman who learns that she's devoted too much energy to her career and not enough to her tween daughter.

No, really, that's what the movie says. There's a scene where her sexist boss tells her she didn't make partner because she obviously needs to be spending more time at home, and the way the moment is presented, it's clear that writer-director Tyler Perry agrees with this sentiment.

SMC_D16_063.CR2Tyler Perry, beloved of Oprah Winfrey fans everywhere, the man who's supposed to be so good at writing female characters and telling their stories, has once again made a movie about women who need to focus more energy on getting a man and on raising their kids than on pursuing their career dreams. That kind of drive and ambition is apparently reserved only for 45-year-old entertainment moguls who put out two movies a year, plus countless hours of bad television and preachy theater, all of which sermonize about 1950s-style family values and all created by an unmarried, childless man.

But hey, where else in 2014 are you going to see a scene where a sassy, working-class black woman swoops in to calm the crying babies of a rich, dithering white lady? In any other movie, the filmmaker would rightly be accused of trafficking in lazy stereotypes, but lazy stereotypes are the beachhead into which Tyler Perry has firmly planted his flag.

“The Single Moms Club” is a movie in which all the white women are emotionally constipated, all the black women have been abandoned by men who are drug addicts, and the Latino characters hang out in a Mexican restaurant where a mariachi band has “Cielito Lindo” on infinite loop. And while it's frequently unintentionally hilarious, it's also crushingly dull.

Also read: Cate Blanchett Was Right – Women Making Little-to-No Progress in Landing Major Movie Roles

The film brings together five cardboard cut-outs: reporter and frustrated writer May (Nia Long); Esperanza (Zulay Hanao, of Perry's “Love Thy Neighbor”), who's hiding her boyfriend from her rotter ex-husband (Eddie Cibrian) who pays the bills; Waffle House waitress Lytia (Cocoa Brown, of Perry's “For Better or Worse”), who pushes her bright young son so he won't follow his older brother to jail; pampered Hillary (Amy Smart), learning to live without staff now that her husband has slashed her alimony; and publishing exec Jan (McClendon-Covey), who opted for single motherhood but now finds it inhibiting her climb up the corporate ladder.

When their kids get into trouble at their schmancy prep school, the women are forced to organize a school fundraiser, and while some of them bristle at first, they're soon laughing over wine and bonding over their shared problems. (Problems written so broadly that it would suggest Perry hasn't met or talked to a single mom in the last 20 years.)

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Each one takes turns babysitting for the other four so the ladies can have a night out, a reasonable idea that goes south when one kid runs off while Hillary is on watch. This event leads to several ridiculous scenes, from the police not being immediately called to three of the moms taking an Amber alert as an excuse to make out with the Mr. Right that the movie has so conveniently provided.

One of these knights in shining armor is played by Perry, whose attempts to give the character blue-collar realness fall short; James Earl Jones in “Claudine,” he ain't.

Everything gets tied up in tacky bows by the end, as the moms help each other out and have unconvincing heart-to-hearts with their kids and generally find happy endings. Spoiler: Jan publishes May's book, having taken the manuscript from her apartment, and May is thrilled to learn she's an author without having to sign a contract or perform lengthy revisions. Add “How Books Work” to the list of things Tyler Perry either doesn't understand or doesn't bother to plot and script in a believable fashion.

While Perry's writing remains consistently tone-deaf and his directing abilities seem to vacillate wildly from film to film, he's had exactly one good idea: the hilariously deranged Madea, who livens up the dreariest of his movies. She is, sadly, nowhere to be found here, and that's a pity.

These drippy ladies could use some talking-to from the no-nonsense Madea, and she, in turn, would no doubt love to learn the secret of how you get five overflowing glasses of wine out of one standard-sized bottle.

  • Mr Ripley

    You have seen one Tyler Movie you have seen them all…..

    • Janice

      Go see it, then comment.

      • Lugnuts

        I have actually watched some parts of his movies and tv shows and they are some of the worst dreck Ive ever seen. If laugh-tracks were allowed in movies, you can bet that all of his would feature them.

  • RYCBAR

    Why won't this guy go away?

    • Lugnuts

      Because unfortunately, there is a large segment of the population that is too stupid to realize that they are being pandered to by a no-talent hack. Like a wise man once said, “No one ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” I dont know what kind of business Perry's “films” and tv crap do overseas but I pray that it's extremely minimal. He is one of the reasons that extraterrestrials and terrorists hate us.

      • The truth

        It is most of you who are lacking intelligence when it comes to the question of Perry's success. I'll try to simplify it for you. Simply put… His movies aren't for you and you have a problem with that. If you grew up impoverished witnessing violence and moral depravity the last thing you would want to see is some deep film about the injustices of your environment. Or even worse some comedy starring people who don't look like you and have no concept of how tough life really can be. His movies are designed to address tough issues in a light hearted way. A palatable and somewhat relatable way to that particular subset of our American culture. Get over yourselves and open your eyes. Arrogance is bliss….

        • Janice

          Amen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just saw the movie. Excellent

          • Mish

            here is everyones problem the film doesn't speak to you.. great… but dont be such d***h***s because you know what i love his films, and my friend doesn't, but she doesn't critise the man or his films she simply say, i dont like it. the reason i love his films is because unlike some stupid disaterous films that people say are “oscar worthy” his films are about real things that happen in real life. dont lie and say that you think its shit because it is racist, its not, its fact, it is what is going on in the world. those characters are completely real, adressing real issues, its not a film for you to go and say “oh that is racist because of this or it is feminist becuase of this..” you should go there and say wow, i cant believe things like this are happening, having seen that how can i better my life and how can i take that piece of advice because his advice isn't his own, it is what has been shared by parents and grandparents for generations and he is simply passing the message on. so lets be honesy here the real reason you don't like his films is cause 1.you're not actually listening 2. its adressing issues directly in your life you don't want to face 3. you think that real life is dull and boring 4. its not got anything to do with your life but guess what its got something to do with someones else!!!!

          • Mish

            that wasn't directly to you janice it was in general for everyone else.

        • Lugnuts

          Oh for the love of God…*shaking my head*…wow…Im not even going to dignify your response with any more of a comment than that.

          • Tyler movie's Suck

            I agree with you Lugnuts.
            The movie is awful and please save your money!!!

        • JayMars84

          As an African-American born into poverty in a violent part of my city and working my way out, Tyler Perry does NOT speak to me or for me. However, being who I am, where I am, I know his audience. I'm surrounded by them and I can tell you that his audience is the ignorant self-proclaimed god-fearers who facilitate the cycle of ridiculousness many African-Americans put themselves through to this day. If you see a Perry movie and go “Yes, that's for me!”, you should be ashamed. To summarize the majority of Perry's fans with language they understand, “dey is ignorant.”

  • Lugnuts

    This reviewer nails just about everything that is horrid about Perry and the constant barrage of dogs*** that he churns out all the time, except he totally lost me when he offered up any praise whatsoever for the “character” of Madea. Wow…are you kidding me? That's the worst of the worst!

  • Joel

    This review just sound like a well versed, vendetta against Perry that is reviewing his movie. The movie is not that awful, it has a well talented cast, and an okay director/ writer which makes a good time at the theatre (for some). I think he has improved, is it oscar worth, woundn't count on it, but it is enjoyable.

  • Betty Smith

    I don't love all Tyler Perry movies, and I certainly don't think they speak for me. But there are a few standouts. There is a Madea speech (in the on stage show) where she talks about letting those go who don't care about you, which is a hard lesson for anyone to learn – and it's worded beautifully. Also, the Family that Prey's is an EXCELLENT movie and teaches the beautiful but simple lesson “You can't become happy off other people's misery.”

  • Lynn

    I wish somebody would HIRE ME to be a Movie Critic since that's what they call themselves. I love to have a fun night out watching movies because i understand that when its all said and done…..ITS JUST ENTERTAINMENT. You're not suppose to go pick a movie to death!!! If its comedy; go laugh. If its suspense, drama, action; go along for the ride! If its Love; by all means cry, get emotional and fall in love all over again. NEVER FORGET; if you nitpicked the movie to death….you missed the point, you were there to relax, enjoy a night out, and have fun. IT WAS JUST A MOVIE!!!

  • Sam

    Well, Senior Duralde, has toss down a pretty convincing review of our ‘Rags-to-Riches’ former son to a single grandmom, – TP. I've never understood why Perry has taken out his frustration on women the way he does – and Mr. Duralde has critiqued it out for me. Perry, has provided an avenue to the same audience that somehow Oprah used to appease. My wife, liked the movie, but my wife has never been a single anything. Well maybe a single credit card spender. Maybe we can get a bunch of ladies to Atlanta for a new TP film, “Have Credit Card and will Spend”. OK – review Senior Duralde, but the people who needs to see this will not see this, it's against the OW & TP by laws.

  • OMGD

    Like Clint Eastwood said in one of his movies opinions are like a butt hole everybody has one.’ Opinions are just that, an opinion!

  • elle

    myself along with several friends saw the movie and we LOVED IT. It is a very good movie and for you jackasses that have so much negative talk about Tlyer Perry and his movies why go see any of them just keep your stupid asses at home. Seems to me you go just for the sake of sending out negative comments.
    THANK YOU TYLER PERRY for a movie with NO Profanity, NO Explecit Sex, NO Violence. I applaude you, I love you and keep on making Great movies. I know you don't give a **** what some fools say or think and will continue doing what you do. I'm so grateful that you have not allowed Greed, Fortune and Fame to replace your humble HEART. May GOD continue to bless you.

  • maria

    i saw the movie and i loved it and so did my girlfriends. it reminds single moms that they are still women and deserve love

  • Bhud

    whether you enjoyed the film or not is not the issue, the issue is the quality. One of my fave movies is Space Chimps, do i think it's a “good” movie: absolutely not. as a black man (it's ok to say black, not every black person is AA) i do understand that his films resonate w/ a particular audience, it's almost insulting the way he assumes the audience can't appreciate a well-executed, technically solid films. By refusing to adhere to logical plotlines and continuity but continuing to portray his characters as broad stereotypes he is actually enforcing the kind of things he tries so fervently to rebuke.

  • Creta De Vault-Ford

    It really is too bad that this critic doesn't seem to know much about the lives of the REAL single mothers out her in the real world! I was one for 28 years of my life and could have fit right in this Tyler Perry movie without a script!