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Nobody’s Fool

2018-11-02 06:40
 
Tika Sumpter, Whoopi Goldberg and Tiffany Haddish

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

Danica is a successful career woman and after having her fiancée leaving her for another woman, is in a long-term relationship with a man she’s only talked to on the phone. When her sister, Tanya, gets out of prison and moves in with her, both aspects of her life threaten to come undone after Tanya comes to the conclusion that the mystery man Danica is seeing is really “catfishing” her – lying about his identity to take advantage of her.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

An all-too inevitable disclaimer: I saw this film with a general (non-media, in other words) audience in a packed cinema and, even as I was being tormented by the horrors of the latest Tyler Perry “comedy”, everyone else in the cinema were clearly having the time of their lives. Laughing heartily, yes, but also hooting, hollering, cheering, clapping, even singing along to some of the songs in the movie. 

Now, as a snobby, snot-nosed critic, I have a rather low tolerance for such behaviour in a cinema but, in this case at least, I wasn’t so much angry as mostly confused as to what the hell all these other people were watching – we couldn’t possibly have been watching the same thing, surely? Still, on the small likelihood that they weren’t having the Life of Brian somehow transmitted directly into their brains, it does seem that this film does, indeed, work very well for some people.

I, however, have a rather different view of Tyler Perry’s first ever R-rated (whoopee!) comedy.

The good news – and this is about it for the questionably titled, Nobody’s Fool – is that the film isn’t quite as brain-pulverisingly grotesque as Perry’s truly abominable Madea movies. It is utter rubbish, though: massively irritating, incredibly boring and quite ineptly put together. And, however much everyone else in the cinema seemed to be almost literally doubled over with laughter, I didn’t laugh once – though I did half-smile once at one sequence involving Whoopi Goldberg but that might just be from the basic recognition that, at last, here was something approaching a halfway decently constructed joke than from the joke itself.  

It’s interesting that Nobody’s Fool is being released on the same day as Juliet, Naked because they’re both romantic comedies that embrace cliché rather than try and subvert it. The difference  between the two films, though, could not be more profound. While Juliet, Naked felt like it actually had something to say about love, relationships and music and did so by being very funny with strong characterisation, top-notch performances and real heart, Nobody’s Fool represents the very worst of a genre that loads of people are already predisposed to hate in the first place. 

Impressively, Perry has created a film that is so bad at both romance and comedy that it’s hard to decide where it’s most fatal flaw actually lies. On the “romance” side of the equation, the film suffers from the double whammy of having an almost entirely unsympathetic lead character in the form of Tika Sumpter’s Danica (I might care more about her if she wasn’t so awful to absolutely everyone around her, but most especially her so-called “love interest”) and in having the film’s main romance play out over an excruciating 100-minutes of will-they-won’t-they shenanigans that give the film more false-endings than fifty Return of the Kings. Sumpter and Omari Hardwick are both fine, in a very bland sort of way, but they are stuck with characters that give them less than nothing to work with in a romance that makes less than no sense. 

As for the “comedy”, all of the film’s total lack of laughs is epitomised by Tiffany Haddish’s performance in the film. I admit, I somehow missed her breakout roles in Girls Trip and Night School but I have seen her in a couple of interviews on late-night talk shows and I was immediately impressed by how effortlessly charming and genuinely very funny she was. Sadly, she is very much neither of these things in Nobody’s Fool. Like her Night School co-star, Kevin Hart, at his absolute worst (mostly when he’s not working with the Rock), Haddish falls prey to the very mistaken belief that being hyper-hyperactive and spouting a bunch of witless but kinda rude “one-liners” very, very fast is a substitute for, ya know, actual comedy. See, it’s not that the jokes in the film aren’t any good, it’s that they barely even qualify as jokes to begin with. 

I wasn’t so much confused by the rest of the audience’s seemingly endless laughter because I thought they were laughing at jokes that weren’t particularly funny – laughter is very subjective, after all – but because they were laughing at things that, nine times out of ten, weren’t identifiable as actual jokes. Nor were they witticisms, slapstick, character-comedy or sight-gags, for that matter. These non-jokes were sometimes over-the-top, sometimes manic and almost always accompanied by the sort of perky music that signifies something you’re supposed to laugh at happening on screen, but there was nothing about them that would even broadly qualify them for the term “comedy”. And, yes, the other ten percent of these were, more or less, actual gags but, boy, “lazy” doesn’t even come close to describing them.         

It was recently announced that Tyler Perry would no longer be making any more Madea movies and, though I realise my opinion doesn’t necessarily the feelings of all audiences, I still can’t help but wish that he was retiring more than just his most (in)famous character. 


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