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For Colored Girls Movie Review

Title: For Colored Girls

Directed By: Tyler Perry

Starring: Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise, Phylicia Rashad, Tessa Thompson, Macy Gray

It’s too bad Tyler Perry couldn’t take a cue from his film’s title, which was chopped down from For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, the 1975 Ntozake Shange play upon which the film is based, to simply For Colored Girls. Just like his name attracts massive amounts of moviegoers, it works like a charm when it comes to casting, too. Yes, it’s thrilling to print a massive list of famous names on your roster, try to adapt an iconic play and express a hefty handful of heavy-duty messages, but when it came to actually making those elements thrive in a film, it proved to be far more than Perry could handle.

Phylicia Rashad is Gilda, the manager of a New York City apartment building and the unofficial housemother, especially when it comes to her next-door neighbor Tangie (Thandie Newton). Night after night Tangie brings a new guy back to her place and sends them packing early the next morning, however, her younger sister, Nyla (Tessa Thompson), is dealing with an entirely different situation. She’s thrilled about finally losing her virginity, but her world comes crashing down when she finds out she’s pregnant. Even worse? Her mother (Whoopi Goldberg) is entirely consumed by her religious beliefs and would only shun Nyla for her sin.

Then there’s Janet Jackson as the big time magazine editor with an attitude, Joanna. When she isn’t tossing folks seeking charitable donations like Juanita (Loretta Devine) out of her office, she’s busy bossing around her longtime assistant Crystal (Kimberly Elise). As if life at work isn’t hard enough, at home Crystal has to deal with her abusive husband and care for her two young children. Gilda’s got her eye on the situation and even takes it upon herself to summon a social services agent, Kelly (Kerry Washington). Kelly also ends up consoling Anika Noni Rose’s character, Yasmine, after a vicious sexual assault.

Clearly the roster is quite large and that’s For Colored Girls’ biggest problems; barely any of the characters are fully developed. Each and every one of them is dealing with a very real and serious problem, however, only a few manage to convey the severity of their situation to the point at which the audience can sympathize with their plight. When it comes to the rest, it’s just too hard to care.

The performances and dialogue are flat almost across the board. The drab begins right from the start when Perry delivers an awkward montage of his leading ladies as they recite Shange’s words, in voiceover, overlapping as it goes from one character to the next. The words completely lose their meaning thanks to the lifeless recitations and come across as preachy more than anything.

The words directly from Perry’s pen don’t fare well either. Every character’s situation is as formulaic as they come, which is primarily due to the fact that they’re extremely underdeveloped. Perry starts off fantastically, providing detailed introductions to each woman, but doesn’t seem to know where to go from there and when he hits that wall, just tosses the character into some devastating situation. Yasmine goes from an innocent dance teacher looking for the right man to a battered rape victim and while Nyla goes from a bubbly dance student to the victim of a shady and seemingly mentally unstable abortionist (Macy Gray). Perry certainly knows how to rip your heart out with these moments; if only he was capable of properly padding them so they came across as aiming for something more than sheer shock value.

For most of the film, every actress simply walks through, reading lines. They’re not trying to portray a character, merely convey some grandiose message that has no weight in the context of the film. The sole actress who is not only guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes, but hold your attention throughout the film, is Elise. Her character is quite subdued at the onset, but when she runs into her traumatizing situation, your heart will break right along with hers. The horrific nature of the moment is overwhelmingly powerful in and of itself, but it’s Elise’s honest performance that makes it that much more emotional. Thompson does quite well in her role as well, but the part of Nyla, like most of the characters, only strikes a chord when she’s down. The moment she overcomes her obstacle, she’s a bit of a bore.

It’s impossible to pin point one major problem with For Colored Girls for everything is just so-so at best. Perhaps Perry was just too concerned with shoving some extravagant point about the hardships faced by women of color in our faces because just about ever other element of the film is devastatingly weak. The majority of the action is missed thanks to poor camera work, the editing is sloppy, the performances are bland, the characters are stale and, to top it all off, Perry desperately tries to lift his fallen characters up by forcing all of their stories to converge so the film can end with a star-studded, but unintentionally silly group hug.

Technical: C+

Acting: C

Story: C-

Overall: C

By Perri Nemiroff

For Colored Girls Poster

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Film producer and director best known for her work in movies such as FaceTime, Trevor, and The Professor. She has worked as an online movie blogger and reporter for sites such as CinemaBlend.com, ComingSoon.net, Shockya, and MTV's Movies Blog.

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. speakeasy

    October 29, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I just returned from a screening this evening with Kimberly Elise on hand for a Q & A session. This is undoubtedly one of the best films I've seen all year. And I've seen so many films already, I've lost count. (Just this week I've seen 4.) This review so clearly magnifies the movie critic's lack….lack of insight, lack of vision, lack of familiarity with the original choreo-poem, and lack of connection with internal pain, suffering, struggle, and ultimate triumph.

    Thankfully, the audience with whom I watched the film viewed it with rapt attention. We hung on every word Outstanding: the acting…each performance is simply incredible. Important: the overarching message. Timeless: the experience of black women in America. This film is sure to be nominated for the top awards! Tyler Perry's best film to date!!

    • Hopscrotch

      November 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      The problem with your argument to the critic's persona is that the average movie goer will not be going to see a remake of same old play that didn't get that much publicity. There are approximately 20 million black women in this country. I don't think they will all go see it. The few that do will drag their husband, who could care less, along with him, so I project that it will not do very well in the box office. We shall see.

  2. Mindy

    October 29, 2010 at 1:39 am

    I just saw a screening of “For Colored Girls” and it is now clear to me that Most critics have some deep seeded “Hate” for Tyler Perry. I guess him not allowing any of his last movies to be screened by critics has carried lots of bad blood.

    This Movie was EXCELLENT. I can't wait to see it with the general Public to get their reactions. Most critics are just jealous of Tyler Perry. He never needed you all before to continuously open at #1, won't need you know.LOL

    • Hopscrotch

      November 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm

      If this opens at number one I will shoot myself in the face!

  3. Xaimiex

    October 29, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    THIS MOVIE IS SOOOO RACIST!!!! I WOULD LOVE TO SEE A MOVIE CALLED FOR WHITE GIRLS AND SEE HOW FAR THAT WILL GET BEFORE PEOPLE SAY THAT ITS RACIST AND YOU CAN'T AIR IT… FUNNY RIGHT? gotta love what America is turning into… like BET? I'm glad there is a black entertainment television but god forbid we have a white entertainment television we probably would be sued an called so racist.. it's funny to think of right..

    • Amanda13555

      October 31, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      What's “funny” is your ignorance, actually.The movie and its title come from the 1975 play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, by Ntozake Shange. This play has been performed Off-Broadway and on Broadway, and adapted as a book, a television film, and a theatrical film. The 1977 Broadway production was even nominated for a Tony Award for best play. So considering it's an iconic classic written over 35 years ago, your comment about “what America is turning into” is inaccurate and outright stupid. Additionally, For Colored Girls is a series of 20 poems performed by a cast of seven women characters, each of whom is known only by a color: “Lady in Yellow,” “Lady in Purple,” etc., hence the title. Get a clue…or better yet, read a book. Please.

      • Xaimiex

        November 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm

        so why does the movie only have black people in it? if there are different women like lady in yellow and purple which are different why are they all the same color in the movie.. im just saying if there was something about all white girls or something people would go nuts and call it racist..

        • jdigga

          November 2, 2010 at 4:35 am

          I blame the public school system for posts like yours.

          • Amanda13555

            November 2, 2010 at 9:52 pm

            And I am asking you to please not blame the public school system for such ignorance; blame this poster's unworldly, unsophisticated, somewhat bigoted comments on his/her parents. I am a hard-working NYC public school teacher, and I (along with my many colleagues) dedicate each day of my life to informing young minds so that we can prevent people from ever uttering anything as moronic as what “Xamiex” posted here.

        • Amanda13555

          November 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm

          Seriously??? You said “if there was something about all white girls or something people would go nuts and call it racist.” The overwhelming majority of television programs, films, and images in the media ARE ALL WHITE!!! Turn on your t.v. right now; what do you see on Gossip Girl, 90210, One Tree Hill, Two and a Half Men, How I Met You Mother, Vampire Diaries — nearly all of your top-rated shows! And that is today, in 2010, after much progress has been made to portray people of all genders, sizes, colors, sexual orientations, etc. Do some research, please, before you open your mouth, or at least gain a bit of experience and education. I am guessing you are either very young or from a very sheltered upbringing, so allow me to explain: it was the inadequate representation of African Americans in the media (in combination with the often distorted images of African Americans presented in the news) which were the very reason why television networks, such as BET, were founded in the first place.

          • Hopscrotch

            November 5, 2010 at 12:23 pm

            First of all the overwhelming majority are white because the numbers are there. Most Cinema are developed in America, and America still has 200 million white people as opposed to about 40 million black people. That's why there are more white shows, they sell better because there are more white viewers. You don't see white people naming there shows “Whites Only” or something like that. You guys still aren't addressing the fact that if there was a network called White Entertainment it would be racist. The white people don't want there to be less black entertainment, they just want the same rules to apply to all races. It isn't fair to them that we have BET and they can't even say “you people” to us without us thinking they are racist. Bottom line, we as a race focus too much on the “RACE ISSUES”.

          • Xaimiex

            November 6, 2010 at 10:55 pm

            I could not have said it any better.. and thats exactly what a lot of people want.. the same rules to apply to ALL (not just white) races.

    • Hopscrotch

      November 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm

      I don't see what's so wrong with what he said. Maybe he didn't say it like a Harvard Graduate, but he's just saying how all white people probably feel. He didn't use slanderous words or anything. Why is it okay for us to have BET and For Colored Girls, but white people can't even make a comment like Xaimiex's without being labeled as an ignorant bigot. That's ridiculous!

      • Amanda13555

        November 6, 2010 at 11:34 am

        What Xamiex said was completely inaccurate and uninformed; the movie's title is not “For Colored Girls ONLY,” as many here have implied or outright incorrectly stated — it's called “For Colored Girls,' because it's based on a written work of the same name!!! It was also written in 1975, when people actually used the term “colored” with more frequency, coming right out of the Jim Crow era, so the title is therefore an ironic, reverse-use of that term. You asked, “Why is it okay for us to have 'For Colored Girls',” but there is no “us,” no restriction on who can see this movie or read this powerful play, unlike the restrictions that WERE once in place “For Colored Girls.” The movie and the play are simply about the HUMAN condition (from what was the disenfranchised voice in 1975 – something people of all colors should hear) and are, ultimately, about the power of womanhood in general.

        People should educate themselves before they judge; not doing so is the very definition of ignorance.

        I also encourage you to think twice before saying things like “he's just saying how all white people probably feel.” That statement, in itself, is presumptuous, stereotypical, and not true. I am white. And clearly that is not how I feel.

        • Xaimiex

          November 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm

          Okay so can you answer me this one question.. I don't care about anything else… if there was a movie called “For White Girls” will it or will it not be called racist..? And everyone knows that answer.. thats all I'm saying..

          and yeah a lot of the shows are white.. but thats because tour country is predominantly white.. but we would never call anything of the shows for white people.. And another note for you being very ignorant.. I was raised in a very strict household where my parents taught me to be respectful and stand up for what I believe in.. so think again before you try to come at my parents… thanks doll

          And I completely agree with Hopscrotch.. thank you for saying something true and I completely agree with everything you had to say.

          • Amanda13555

            November 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm

            And you can answer this one question: Should Tyler Perry have changed the name of a preexisting work of literature to make people like yourself more comfortable? Are you happier to NOT preserve the integrity of the title, of the arts, and of the brilliance of Ntozake Shange?

            As far as your statement that “yeah a lot of the shows are white.. but thats [sic] because tour [sic] country is predominantly white,” that attitude is exactly what has held back progress in our country for years, and it does not hold true for individual areas of the country. In fact, the white population of the U.S. decreases each year, and 45% of American children under the age of 5 belong to minority groups. It is important for a racially diverse country like America to reflect its racial diversity in the media. I don't know where you live, but in New York, it is NOT 85-90% white, but this is the “reality” Hollywood falsely projects. There needs to be more diversity on television and in film so that children have role models that are not just white, but who are black, Latino, Asian, Native American… all children should see positive representations of their backgrounds, to see people who look LIKE THEM on t.v. or in movies; all children should be inspired to dream big and see that they can accomplish things, even if the people in their household or neighborhoods don't provide that example.

            I called you ignorant because, by definition, ignorance is a lack of education or knowledge about a subject. That is exactly what I believe you displayed. As far as MY being “very ignorant,” as you said, I am the one who read the literary work, so I think I came equipped with the knowledge. My comment about blaming your parents wasn't ignorant; it was rude and presumptuous on my part. And I apologize for it. I have no idea what type of household you were raised in. So you're welcome…doll.

          • Billyjenkins

            November 13, 2010 at 4:06 pm

            BOTTOM LINE, no one really cares that the title stays the same, it would just be nice that the same rules applied. Tyler Perry don't change the title, just don't get mad if white people do the opposite. imagine if two white guys dressed up like black girls, made a movie called black girls and danced around like ghetto super stars. would that be offensive to black people. what about the exact opposite when the wayans brothers did it in the movie white girls, and white people didn't care one bit.

          • Xaimiex

            November 14, 2010 at 5:49 pm

            amen to that

          • Kosh347

            December 4, 2010 at 11:23 pm

            Do you remember the movie single white Female thriller with Jenifer Jason leigh,

            but that was not racist because of the early 90's movies jungle fever,white men Can't jump, Brotha from another planet. I have to say 4 colored girls title might not be so bigoted, you got to remember Tyler perry comes from a strong southern religious background, so I expect him to come out with something like that. im a individual of color from NY and im not into race im into intelligent individuals of all backgrounds, don't care much about religion because it only impedes intelligence.

  4. Asdf

    October 31, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Wow, stop the segragation Tyler. Chill out man. Your just straight up puttin the hate in the title now. At least try to get some new actors and cut some of the depression out. I'm gonna come out with a movie called just for Chinese. Or Not for Blacks.

  5. HDA

    November 1, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Seems only the white people are considered racist…………there is no way a movie called “For White Girls” would make it into the theatre, I am so sick and tired of this crap.

    • Nclark

      November 11, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      I think you are a complete idiot. If you read the book, maybe you would Know why the title is Called for color girls, do you research people. When ever there is a movie about womans issues especially African American Woman, There's always a problem, because their not shaking their ass, and dropping it like it's hot. I bet you that would be acceptable.

    • Randy

      October 1, 2011 at 1:08 am

      Pretty much every movie that comes out is for white girls. They feature white casts and most of the time overlook the fact that the rest of us exist. The outrage you are feeling right now is how the rest of us non-white people feel when we turn on our Tv’s or go to movies. Most of the time minorities are not featured in white films, and when minorities are featured we are portrayed as nothing more than a negative stereotype. Furthermore, the title comes from the play For colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, quite a mouthful and not really the greatest title for a movie. 

  6. Sj

    November 2, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    LOOK PEOPLE

    Most films are WHITE only and that is suppose to be considered some kind of “NORM”, which is WRONG. The title with the word COLOR is based off the play. Go do your research and by the way there is nothing wrong with African American women having their own film and showing their beauty and DIVERSITY.

    • Hopscrotch

      November 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm

      true, but everyone seems to be ignoring the point that if a movie came out with the title “For White Girls” it would be a lot bigger deal than this. I'm black and I get that! It seems that we as the black community have already gotten equal rights, and now we are getting the rights to lean more in our favor than everyone else's. I don't think that Dr. King ever wanted this to happen to his race.

  7. Kimkrys1

    November 2, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    In my opinion, he should have used a title with more words.. For Colored Girls leads you to believe only colored girls can watch the movie. Will they stop me at the door since I'm white? I LOVED Tyler Perry.. until this. thanks Perry for making it even harder to be white…. and yes, most movies are predominately black… but blacks felt free to go to them… with this movie, I'm not even allowed in the doors… which is fine with me.. and as for as public education causing me to act this way, I didnt grow up in the Affirmative Action and Leave No Child Behind age… I dont think that I would even be able to FORM an opinion if I did.. but THATS for another day…

    • SL

      November 4, 2010 at 11:56 am

      It's simply a title…are you kidding me…

    • Wow

      November 6, 2010 at 4:32 pm

      Clearly this was said out of pure ignorance.You seriously think that they're going to stop you from going inside to see this movie? It is not that serious. Its only a title.

  8. Hannah

    November 3, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I am sure this movie is good, and I like Tyler Perry. But come on…..we all know, regardless of what play the movie is based on the Title is going to cause a problem. The White people of this country have been called racist for so long, and if we even tried to title a movie “For White Girls” everyone would be all over us. Enough is enough, all the political correctness, has got to stop. It is not right that we are expected to play by certain rules, yet blacks and mexicans are allowed to not have to play by the same set. I for one will not be going to see the movie.

    • Jfazes

      November 17, 2010 at 11:52 am

      i am a black man and would have no problem with a movie called “For White Girls”. I would, however, have a problem if the movies's content was racist. As I have a problem with this movies content as it portrays black men as monsters.

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