Perry took on Ntozake Shange's series of poems, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, first published in 1975. He chose an all-star cast, and Sharkey claims he got some "standout performances" from certain actors. She adds:
Perry manages a near seamless integration of poetry and traditional dialogue that turns out to feel more natural than you might expect.
But Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum isn't as enthused.
Perry has taken Shange's feminist word-and-movement portraits of disenfranchised African-American women and turned those howls into...a maddeningly choppy mess of a Tyler Perry movie.
Schwarzbaum's review ends: "the actors' earnest work isn't enuf."
New York Times critic Manohla Dargis calls For Colored Girls "a thunderous storm of a movie," writing that "Mr. Perry works very hard and gets it mostly right."
When the news broke that a man known for dressing in drag and playing a caricature of a black woman would be tackling this project, many we were skeptical; as our own contributor LaToya Peterson wrote, "To bring Shange's vision to light would take an understanding of why this work of art is so deeply intertwined with black womens' articulation of their own struggles under racist, patriarchal oppression — something that unfortunately, many still deny to this day… I am unsure that someone who has not lived this experience can do it justice."
Ntozake Shange's work deserves a larger audience, so Tyler Perry is accomplishing that, at least. But here's what's sad: If you had to name a black female writer/director with the Hollywood clout to get this project made, could you?