Specializing in a kind of sitcom-friendly comfort zone of Christian family values and African-American community spirit, Tyler Perry has created his own cottage industry of sentimental comedies infused with beaming, moralistic messages for the faithful. Thankfully, Daddy’s Little Girls isn’t another sequel to his popular Madea series, shying away from broad slapstick humor in favor of Perry’s heartfelt earnestness and romanticism. A blue-collar garage mechanic, Monty (Idris Elba) struggles in the hood raising three precocious young daughters alone, protecting them from his ex-wife, a drug-dealing, opportunistic harpy who would be right at home with the sneeringly abusive Bill Sykes of Oliver Twist (as it stands she’s dating the evil neighborhood lord, who slaps the children around and tries to get them to sell drugs on the street). Enter upper-class corporate lawyer Julia (Gabrielle Union), a tough as nails mover and shaker with an Ivy League degree, who sympathizes with Monty’s bad situation. The little girls of the title, appropriately cute little moppets all, play into the story less than one might expect, since Perry is clearly more interested in the blossoming romance between a big-hearted guy from the hood and a tenacious gal with a heart of gold. It’s a laundry list of rom-com clichés, all punctuated by an angelic score that works overtime to lift your spirits. But the courtship is given charm, dignity, and winning quirk by Union and Elba. How rare to find genuinely likeable stars—most comedies these days have to overcompensate with sugar to balance out the crass, even hostile personas. But Perry’s a true believer, and his casting helps make his obvious platitudes seem fresh. It’s a foregone conclusion this Valentine’s Day offering is going to be another box office whopper. Kindness, graciousness, nurturing, and support is the message for couples and community, so even if it’s not saying anything new under the sun, all that syrup makes the cardboard taste better.
- 95 min
- Tyler Perry
- Tyler Perry
- Gabrielle Union, Idris Elba, Louis Gossett Jr., Tasha Smith, Gary Sturgis, Tracee Ellis Ross, Malinda Williams, Terri J. Vaughn, Cassie Davis, Juanita Jennings, LaVan Davis
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