A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Diary of a Mad Black Woman" begins as the drama of a wife of 18 years, dumped by her cruel husband and forced to begin a new life. Then this touching story is invaded by the Grandma from Hell, who takes a chainsaw to the plot, the mood, everything. A real chainsaw, not a metaphorical one. The Grandma is not merely wrong for the movie, but fatal to it -- a writing and casting disaster. And since the screenplay is by the man who plays Grandma in drag, all blame returns to Tyler Perry. What was he thinking?
There's a good movie buried beneath the bad one. Kimberly Elise stars as Helen, wife of Atlanta's attorney of the year. She lives with her husband Charles (Steve Harris) in a house big enough to be the suburban headquarters of an insurance company. Their marriage seems ideal, but he cheats on her, and assaults her with verbal brutality. When Helen comes home the next day, her clothes are being loaded into a U-Haul. That's how she finds out Charles is dumping her and moving in with his mistress, Brenda (Lisa Marcos). Oh, and he has two children by Brenda.
Luckily for Helen, the U-Haul is driven by Orlando (Shemar Moore, from "The Young and the Restless"), who is handsome and kind and everything Charles is not. Helen weepingly flees to the house of her grandmother, and that's when everything goes spectacularly wrong.
Grandma Madea, who is built along the lines of a linebacker, is a tall, lantern-jawed, smooth-skinned, balloon-breasted gargoyle with a bad wig, who likes to wave a loaded gun and shoot test rounds into the ceiling. This person is not remotely plausible; her dialogue is so offensively vulgar that it's impossible to believe that the intelligent, sweet, soft-spoken Helen doesn't seem to notice. Madea at one point invades Charles' mansion, tells his mistress she is a ho (which is correct) and destroys all the furniture in his living room with a chainsaw she is able to find and employ within seconds. What's with this bizarre grandmother? She's like Moms Mabley at a church social. Did nobody realize that Grandma Madea comes from Planet X, would seem loud at the Johnson Family Picnic, is playing by different rules than anyone else in the cast, and fatally sabotages Kimberly Elise's valiant attempt to create a character we can care about?