Movie Review: Good Deeds (2011)

Posted: July 2, 2012 in Drama
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Wesley Deeds (Tyler Perry) is the CEO of a software company based in San Francisco California.  He has an idyllic life, a thriving company, a beautiful fiance named Natalie (Gabrielle Union) and a fancy sportscar.  But Wesley is tired of being told what to do by his domineering mother, Wilhelmina. (Phyllcia Rashad) and tired of living the life others want him to live.  Wesley’s life starts to change when he meets the night janitor in his building, Lindsey Wakefield (Thandie Newton) Lindsey wanted to be a nurse, but then her Iraq war veteran husband died, and she had to take a job as a janitor to support her daughter, Ariel (Jordenn Thompson).  Now Lindsey is working a double shift to avoid being put out on the street, but she doesn’t make the rent payment in time, and has to live in a shelter for a time.  Wesley starts to help lindsey by buying her and her daughter dinner, and then giving her free use of an apartment he never uses.  Life as the CEO of Deeds software is no less complicated, Wesley wants to take over a rival software company, run by Mr. Brunson (Andrew Masset) but Wesley’s brother Walter (Brian White) sabotages the deal by insulting Mr Brunson.  Natalie is becoming increasingly suspicious of Wesley’s newly unpredictable behavior, his different style of dress, his listening to rap music, his spontaneous lovemaking to her.  Wesley has changed because of Lindsey, he’s test driving motocycles, laughing and relaxing more, despite the pressures of trying to take over a rival, and dealing with Walter’s sibling rivalry issues.  Is he falling in love with Lindsey?  Or is he committed to Natalie?  Does the acquisition of the rival company go through, or has it been scuttled for good by a jealous brother?

This is a more mature effort at storytelling than  Perry’s Madea movies, but Perry makes the mistake of taking 90% of the conflict out of his characters and making them uninteresting.  Wesley is rich and perfect, Lindsey is poor and perfect, Natalie is the perfect fiance with the perfect body, and wonderfully educated diction.  The only person with some true inner turmoil is Walter, but he can’t do anything right, so why would anyone care for him to succeed?  I’ve noticed in some of Perry’s other movies like “Why did I Get Married?” that the characters are either all good or all bad.  Real people are never always all good or all bad, sometimes good people make bad decisions, sometimes bad people do noble things, so while this is better writing by Perry, it’s not quite all the way there yet.  Add a predictable storyline to bland characters and you get a bland predictable movie. Tyler Perry is no great actor, his gazillions of dollars can’t make his emotionless style anymore effective.  Gabrielle Union has a character with no character development, all she has to do is sit or lie there and look beautiful, which she does admirably.  Thandie Newton is quite good in her role as a woman desperately trying to maintain some semblance of a normal life for herself and her daughter.  And she also does a great American accent.  The supporting cast of Eddie Cybian, Romijn, Rashad, et al seem happy to be working in anything.
Good Deeds.  Too bad it wasn’t better.
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