Review: ‘Tyler Perry’s Divorce in the Black’ Is Hilariously Terrible

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: July 11, 2024 (Last updated: 1 weeks ago)
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Tyler Perry’s Divorce in the Black Review – Egregiously Awful Nonsense
Tyler Perry's Divorce in the Black | Image via Prime Video
1.5

Summary

Through no fault of Meagan Good’s, who delivers a committed performance in spite of the movie around her, Tyler Perry’s Divorce in the Black is laughably terrible garbage.

One of the most enduring mysteries in the entertainment industry is Tyler Perry, whose adamancy in proudly putting his name in the title of execrable garbage like Divorce in the Black is utterly mystifying. A laughably ridiculous movie streaming on Prime Video, it makes his recent Netflix effort Mea Culpa seem like high art, though a determined effort from Meagan Good is at least worth a mention.

Perry’s story ideas seem sprung from some kind of dare, like someone in his inner circle has whispered in his ear, “I bet you wouldn’t write an opening scene in which a cadaver is pulled from a casket during a funeral and carried out of the church in protest.” But he would, dear readers. And he did.

Is this a complex money laundering scheme? Is Perry’s sprawling Atlanta studio, where most of these movies tend to be made, staffed by robots and AI? Does it hide a wormhole to another dimension like the lab in Stranger Things? What, exactly, is going on here?

I might as well talk about the movie. Tyler Perry’s Divorce in the Black – to give it its full title – revolves around Ava (Good), who is for some reason married to Dallas (Cory Hardrict), the exaggeratedly awful son of a cartoon villain family who have apparently been raping and murdering their way around the local community for years. We know this because the funeral in the opening scene is for one of Dallas’s brothers, and Ava’s father, Clarence (Richard Lawson), is the priest who explains all this at length during the eulogy.

A scene like that is intended to clue us into what’s going on, let us know who everyone is, and give us the lay of the land. But to be honest, after sitting through this movie for two hours I’m still none the wiser about some of the most essential questions, such as why Ava and Dallas got together in the first place, and what prompts Dallas to push for a divorce, which is what kick-starts the plot proper.

Let me be clear – I know that men and women find themselves in abusive relationships all the time, and often struggle to find their way out of them. Domestic abuse is an always-vital topic and stories about it are usually worthwhile in the sense that, irrespective of quality, they raise awareness that these types of relationships exist all over the place, often hidden in plain sight.

But Divorce in the Black makes a mockery of the concept. Dallas is a ridiculous caricature and there’s never any indication that he was anything else – at one point, Ava’s friend Rona (Taylor Polidore), gives her a comprehensive written list of all the awful stuff he has done to Ava since she and Rona met. He’s awful, has been awful seemingly forever, and weirdly enough it’s him who wants a divorce.

Of course, though, he doesn’t want to let Ava go or allow her to live a normal life, especially not shacked up with her love interest, Benji (Joseph Lee Anderson), and he becomes increasingly jealous and unhinged. You can predict the rest of the movie from here.

I suppose what I want to know is who is this for? People who have never seen a movie before? It’s certainly not for anyone with a desire to see a serious topic be treated seriously or to be compelled by a story about people who resemble real human beings experiencing real human emotions.

Meagan Good decided to try, at least, and we can appreciate that. Her take on a woman cowed by decades of abuse finding herself and her agency in the aftermath of a divorce is respectable enough that one wishes it was in a different movie, one that didn’t fill her mouth with atrocious dialogue or coax her into some of the silliest scenarios in recent memory, such as a bit where she ambles downstairs after a night of passion with Benji and finds Dallas at the kitchen counter menacingly eating cereal.

And the ending. “This isn’t over!”, we’re told. I really hope it is.

For reasons I cannot begin to explain, people watch and enjoy these movies in great numbers, and thanks to the ridiculousness of its opening, Divorce in the Black is already gaining semi-virality on social media. Tyler Perry is an untouchable and inexplicable force in the industry, someone who only makes terrible movies but keeps making more of them at an alarming rate. His output might never cease, and many years from now I might still be stuck here asking these same questions.

I want a divorce.


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