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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: For Colored Girls

March 3rd, 2011

For Colored Girls - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack

Tyler Perry's latest film, For Colored Girls, is an adaptation of an award-winning play by Ntozake Shange. Will the high caliber of the source material help produce a high caliber film?

The Movie

The film is an ensemble piece about a group of woman, who mostly live in a tenement building in Harlem. Because of the very nature of the film, it is hard to talk about the plot without getting into unacceptable spoiler territory. Even just mentioning which character suffers what trauma feels like it is too much. And there are a lot of both in this movie. In the play, seven women known only by a color recite 20 poems on the plight of African-American woman. In the movie, Tyler Perry has created a narrative to tie together these seven women. Which does makes sense, as a film version of 20 poems being recited might be a hard sell. Although perhaps making a film that was a collection of short films would have been more effective than the blending of stories here.

In the play, the poems and the woman were about one event, one trauma suffered. Being in an abusive relationship, date rape, abortion, etc. can be dealt with in a more abstract fashion in a poem. When turning it into a movie, these characters and events have to become more concrete. Turning this many characters into concrete people with backgrounds and motivations is just too much for one film, even one that's more than two hours long. With no one character getting enough of the focus, it is hard to develop enough empathy for them before you are pulled off and focus is given to another.

One of the few complaints I had about Precious was the unrelenting nature of the film. Too much tragedy was heaped on one character. Here, it's spread around to numerous people, but it's even more tragedy and it is far too much to take. Some of the performances were powerful despite this, others exasperated the problem by trying out-drama the material.

I'm sure there are certain members of Tyler Perry's target audience that will love this film, but it also has the least amount of crossover appeal. Handled with a lighter touch, the play could have been brought to a wider audience.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD include an interactive documentary on the making of the play that serves as the basis for this movie, from its origins, its Broadway run, the TV production, etc. It's partially text based, but also includes a number of interviews. Prism of Poems is a collection of the poems from the film and from the book. It's like when musicals have a feature where you can listen to all the songs without the rest of the film getting in the way. Transformation: Movie Magic is a more traditional making of featurette. Finally, there are three songs from the film set to montages.

I don't have a copy of the Blu-ray to review, so I can't comment on picture / audio quality or any exclusive extras. It doesn't appear to have any exclusive extras, but the price is very good; it's like buying the DVD and getting the Blu-ray for less than $5.

The Verdict

For Colored Girls was Tyler Perry's attempt at more art house fair compared to his usual broad humor of Madea, and as much as I dislike that character, his style works better in that form. In the end, I think this film will only please his core audience and most can safely give the DVD or the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack a pass. For the core fans, it's worth picking up, while the Blu-ray is a good value for the money.

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Filed under: Video Review, For Colored Girls