BWW DVD Reviews: Tyler Perry's MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL Easily Entertains
Everyone's favorite tough-as-nails Southern lady, Madea, is back in Tyler Perry's MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL. Tyler Perry's now iconic character first caught the attention of mainstream audiences in 2005 in the feature film Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which was an adaptation of his play by the same title. Yet, Madea first impressed audiences in Atlanta in the 2000 play I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF. 14 years later, she is a cultural phenomenon that is consistently doling out powerful life lessons with her brand of tough love and her own unique charm and wit.
MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL brings audiences back to Madea's Atlanta neighborhood. Nosey, yet adorable, neighborhood gossip extraordinaire Aunt Bam sees that a new family in moving into the vacant house adjacent to hers. The matriarch of the family, Ruth, enchants her, but Ruth's rude foster children rub her the wrong way. When Madea returns from vacation, Aunt Bam can't wait to share the news. However, their chat is interrupted when Madea discovers that her home has been broken into. She accosts the children, whom she suspects are the culprits, but as she puts the pieces together she notices not everything is adding up to the picture of a safe, happy family inside Ruth's home.
Before sitting down to watch MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL, my only other Madea experience was the 2005 Diary of a Mad Black Woman film. Honestly, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the filmed stage play. Whatever I was expecting, this DVD exceeded those expectations and proved to be a highly enjoyable and entertaining experience.
The film capture of the stage play is beautiful. The camera work records the actors and action from various angles giving the DVD a feature film like quality without hiding the fact that the performance was recorded live in front of an audience. As we watch the film, we see the curtain rise at the beginning of the acts, we see the black outs for scene changes, we see the head mics, we see the glow tape, and we hear the audience cheer and applaud. All of this puts the at home audience for MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL inside Atlanta's Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and gives us the absolute best seat in the house.
Tyler Perry's writing for MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL does the job and keeps audiences easily entertained for a majority of the show. The relevant topical humor (i.e. when Madea says Aunt Bam looks like she has two Miley Cyruses twerking under her dress as she runs and the use of the current connotation of ratchet) ensures the play feels fresh and timely. However, it has its weaknesses too. After my first viewing, I'm not rushing back to watch the DVD again, and I'm not sure that the jokes will hold up through repeated watchings. Also, there are moments in the second act where musical numbers are inserted for the sole purpose of slowing the show down. By the time we reach the second act, as an audience, we are no longer concerned about the stories of the adults in the neighborhood; we want to know what is happening with the children. Once Tyler Perry gets us back to the kids, the resolution happens too quickly and easily for my tastes, making the profoundly serious issues he brings attention to ultimately not seem so realistic themselves.
Overall, the performances offered on the DVD are wonderful. As Aunt Bam, Cassi Davis steals the show. Drawing peals of laughter from myself with her kooky antics, especially when she talks to herself to tell a story, Cassi Davis creates an annoyingly nosey neighbor that is equally delightful. As Madea, Tyler Perry gives audiences everything they would expect with that character. Rhonda Davis does an excellent job being cheerful and polite and terrifyingly brutal as Ruth. With lovely voices and capable acting skills Jayna Brown as Shannon, Kimani Jackson as Tay, and Chelsea Reynolds as Karen create three characters that the audience has complete and total empathy and sympathy for. The characters they play have had tough lives and despite their foibles, our hearts break for them as we learn more about everything they have gone through and are currently going through. David Stewart brings neighborhood mailman Wally to heartwarming life. Wess Morgan's Clay and Alexis Hollins' Patti are both CPS employees and appear to genuinely care about their young clients. Dathan Thigpen's Desi is a punk kid with a good heart.
Tyler Perry has ingeniously built an empire around his Madea character, and watching the DVD of MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL it is no surprise that his writings and these characters continue to fascinate audiences. With laugh of loud moments that may require you to pause the DVD, beautifully sung original gospel numbers, performances that touch the heart and soul, and tangible proof that the cast is having a blast putting the play in front of an audience (note: you will see just about every member of this cast break character to laugh at one another during the production), there is no denying that this DVD does exactly what it is supposed to do. If you're looking for entertainment, you've found your ticket. Due to some content and mild language, you may only want to share it with members of your family that are 13 or older though.
Running Time: 138 minutes.
Tyler Perry's MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL was released by Lionsgate Home Entertainment to DVD (plus Digital Ultraviolet), Digital HD, Video On Demand, and Pay-Per-View on April 22, 2014. It can be purchased from Amazon and elsewhere DVDs are sold.
Images courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
From left to right: David Stewart ("Wally," left), Tyler Perry ("Madea," center) and Cassi Davis ("Aunt Bam," right) star in Lionsgate Home Entertainment's Tyler Perry'S MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL (THE PLAY).
From left to right: Wess Morgan ("Clay," left), Alexis Hollins ("Patti," center) and Cassi Davis ("Aunt Bam," right) star in Lionsgate Home Entertainment's Tyler Perry'S MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL (THE PLAY).
From left to right: Chelsea Reynolds ("Karen," left), Kimani Jackson ("Tay," left center), Jayna Brown ("Shannon," right center) and Rhonda Davis ("Ruth," right) star in Lionsgate Home Entertainment's Tyler Perry'S MADEA'S NEIGHBORS FROM HELL (THE PLAY).
DVD Box Art.