After working with Lionsgate Films for nearly a decade to build the Tyler Perry empire. The movie, stage and tv mogul has produced, written, directed and starred in his products, has decided to head on a new path by retiring the Madea character that he is best known for this coming March. The first step Perry takes is by switching studios, with his first R rated raunchy comedy “Nobody’s Fool”. It marks his first release for Paramount Pictures subsidiary company Paramount Players in association with BET Films. They will follow “Nobody’s Fool” with the terrible looking Taraji P Henson gender bender spinoff “What Men Want”.
Perry’s comedic writing is never solid gold status, it’s generic and amateur but it still manages to be funny. “Nobody’s Fool” should have been him at his comedic best but he doesn’t manufacture a single punchline, he keeps the cast in a state of frenzied improvised work, that leads the jokes to awkwardness, not laughs. “Nobody’s Fool” is a complete mess of a movie. It’s painful to see Perry fail this miserably, especially after giving us his best film “Acrimony” a romantic psycho thriller earlier this year.
Perry’s “Nobody’s Fool”, opens with a moment where it seems that Perry has found a sense of fun, setting the main title sequence to Janet Jackson’s incredible pop tune “Miss You Much” while Tika Sumpter dances through her morning routine, preparing for the day. It’s kinda funny that the film opens with the Janet Jackson tune as it was the same song to open Tika Sumpter’s other film “Southside With You” where she played Michelle Obama. Perry creates actual screen energy promising us something different from his previous films. All of the fun is drained within 10 minutes with the arrival of Tiffany Haddish, who we first meet in the back of a truck in the prison parking lot, engaging in gymnastic sex with a stranger. Perry has never been one to avoid cartoonish sight gags, but his attempt at explicitness is unsettling, awkward, uncomfortable and generic.
Danica (Tika Sumpter) is hard working, focused and soft-spoken, her sister Tanya (Tiffany Haddish) is her exact opposite: she’s just gotten out of jail after serving five years, yells inappropriate opinions at full volume. She is basically a much raunchier version of Madea. “Nobody’s Fool” involves Danica taking Tanya in after her prison release, and as Tanya gets back on her feet by working at a coffee house owned by nice guy Frank (Omari Hardwick, “Power”), a budding relationship between Frank and Danica is stymied by her long-distance boyfriend and by the fact that Frank doesn’t fit all the items on Danica’s literal list of attributes she wants in a man; he has a child with another woman (which we see only once before he disappears from the movie). Veteran actress Whoopi Goldberg, sports a terrible wig and grows an indoor marijuana farm pops up occasionally as Tanya and Danica’s mom who lives in Jersey and dispenses advice and toughlove.
Almost from the get go it feels as if Perry and his cast were just making up the movie as it went along. The plot gallops around from idea to idea: the plot of whether or not Danica is being catfished by her long-distance man Charlie. Tanya prompts the appearance of Nev and Max from MTV’s “Catfish”. They arrive ready to play, creating an extended commercial for the MTV show, being a fan of the show I found this sequence fun. The catfish issue is solved quickly as we eventually meet Charlie, and the film doesn’t play fair in making him a viable rival to the wonderful Frank. In person, he is made to be obviously and spectacularly wrong for Danica. A better film would have made the choice between the two actually hard for her. But instead, Perry turns this guy we don’t meet for well over an hour and a half of screen time into some weird character of annoying vanity and freaky sexual proclivities. It clears the way for Frank, who is written as the typical Perry hunk who is sensitive, broken, and has lots of ample time to hit the gym.
One of the biggest problems of “Nobody’s Fool” is Tiffany Haddish who is following Kevin Hart’s career, by delivering the same performance in everything, but her loudness doesn’t win hearts this time around unlike her winning role in “Girls Trip”. Haddish thinks it’s a better idea to deliver the unfunny dialogue by screaming it! Here is a piece of advice it doesn’t make it funnier the louder you scream it. Here she is quite obnoxious and her character is completely unnecessary. “Nobody’s Fool” would have benefited without her performance and Perry should have stuck to Tika Sumpter’s Danica and made a straight romantic comedy. Instead Danica is a written character that is a challenge to like. Saddled as an uptight character who exists to simply embarrass herself and to treat the one guy who cares for her like he is a piece of dirt on more than one occasion.
In the 2014 film “Top Five”, Chris Rock had made a faux Madea Halloween poster which became the inspiration for 2016’s “Boo! A Madea Halloween” which had a sequel in 2017 that resulted in Tyler Perry’s worst film. So yes, Tyler Perry made two Madea Halloween movies based off a joke Chris Rock written for one of his movies. To return the favor, the only logical step was to have Chris Rock appear in an odd and unfunny cameo. I never thought I’d see the day where Chris Rock would appear in a Tyler Perry movie, but damn it’s as bad as you’d imagine.
As usual, Tyler Perry shot the entire movie in a little over a week, ten days to be exact. Can someone please tell Tyler Perry that it’s a good idea to take the time to develop your ideas and characters, instead of worrying to make the book of Guinness World Records for fastest movie production. It’s clear that Perry just turned the cameras on and let his cast go wild.
It’s interesting to see Perry risk alienating his fans by working with an R-rated comedy. With this being the auteur’s 20th theatrical feature film, there is no excuse for having this many problems and giving us a movie this messy. “Nobody’s Fool” gets wild with cursing, sex talk, and a furious and loud Haddish. In Tyler Perry fashion he schedules time for soul searching, keeping his formula alive. Perry writes “Nobody’s Fool” with a newfound interest in being dirty and raunchy, but he’s not prepared or skilled to write that kind of material. What’s even more criminal is that Tyler Perry uses the same title “Nobody’s Fool” from the 1994 Paul Newman masterpiece. Stay home and rent the Paul Newman film, if you choose to watch Tyler Perry’s film at the multiplex than sorry to say you are the foolish one.
GRADE: 1/2 ★ OUT OF ★★★★★