Tyler Perry Is At It Again

Tyler Perry’s “Daddy’s Little Girls” is a feel-good movie with an overriding theme of the strength of gospel, community, family and love. The onscreen duo of characters Monty (Idris Elba, “The Wire”) and Julia (Gabrielle Union, “Running with Scissors”) is charismatic. Laughs are abundant. The movie is an altogether honest second directorial attempt by Tyler Perry (the first being “Madea’s Family Reunion”). But several things are missing in “Daddy’s Little Girls,” and an appearance by Madea isn’t the only one.

At times this film lacks focus, plot development, and subtlety. But then again, who cares? Anyone in their right mind who goes to the theatre to watch a Tyler Perry film and is shell-shocked by unexpected twists and turns pretty much deserves to feel cheated out of 10 bucks. That being said, “Daddy’s Little Girls” is a legitimately cute movie, albeit with some serious Perry trademark undertones.

Meet Monty, a loving single father of three adorably sassy little girls (real-life sisters China, Lauryn, and Sierra McClain), making an honest living as a mechanic in Atlanta.

The children are happily under the care of their maternal grandmother until, in an unfortunately formulaic turn of events, she dies from lung cancer shortly after going to family court to give Monty custody of his children. Case in point for Perry’s lack of plot development: moments after we learn she has cancer, we are fed the image of her funeral. The film seems to jump integral time spans.

The mother of the three girls, Jennifer (Tasha Smith, “ATL”) left Monty years ago for the neighborhood drug lord, arrested several times but released due to the fact that no one wants to testify as a witness against him. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jennifer later wins custody of the children after a mishap occurring during Monty’s moonlighting as a chauffeur for Julia.

Julia is the formulaic missing hero/love interest puzzle-piece to this plot. An Ivy-League graduate, with a position at her father’s law firm, Julia is a force to be reckoned with. She’s extremely dedicated to her work, and wins every case. Her love life, on the contrary, is lackluster. Her friends set her up on consecutively horrible blind dates, the first being a 40-year-old aspiring rapper who, during the dinner-date, asks the waiter what type of fish the “fillet mig-non” is (only to order “scrimps” and hot sauce).

But then she falls for Monty, as if he was not already there from the beginning. With a little time warp a la Perry, they manage to fall in love in about five minutes and five drinks. It’s a boy meets girl, girl helps boy win custody of his girls story…with some soul-searching drama in between.

By all means, if you were a fan of “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” or any of Perry’s other creations, you will definitely enjoy this movie. Despite the dramatic sequences, it has frequent moments of hilarity that only he could conjure in such situations. Perry deserves credit for his messages concerning the struggles and strengths of the African American community. The movie can be melodramatic at times, but Perry’s redeeming grace is that he always manages to charm.