For some people, learning that Tyler Perry was going to write and direct the movie version of 'For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf' must have been like finding out Garry Marshall was going to film 'Death of a Salesman.' Ntozake Shange's 1975 theatrical piece was an acclaimed work of prose poetry that examined what it means to be a black woman. Tyler Perry makes hammy melodramas that turn the African-American experience into cliches and platitudes. Finesse would be required to convert the abstract 'For Colored Girls' into something cinematic. There was some fear that Tyler Perry would ... you know ... Tyler Perry it up.
I take no pleasure in reporting that those fears were justified. Tyler Perry has Tyler Perried the hell out of this thing. Shange's collection of poetic monologues chronicles all manner of traumas, from everyday things like broken relationships and infidelities to rape, domestic violence, and abortion. On the stage or the page, these things are recounted with mournful beauty. The movie, going by the shorter (but still awkward) title 'For Colored Girls,' must flesh out the ideas into actual scenes -- supply the characters who were previously only mentioned, give those characters dialogue, make the abstract concrete -- and in the process cheapens them. Now it's just a junky soap opera.