Synopsis: A successful, wealthy businessman, Wesley Deeds (Tyler Perry) has always done what’s expected of him, whether it’s assuming the helm of his father’s company, tolerating his brother’s misbehavior at the office or planning to marry his beautiful but restless fiancee, Natalie (Gabrielle Union). But Wesley is jolted out of his predictable routine when he meets Lindsey (Thandie Newton), a down-on-her-luck single mother who works on the cleaning crew in his office building. When he offers to help her get back on her feet, the chance encounter with someone so far outside his usual circle ignites something in Wesley. This one good deed may finally spark his courage to exchange the life that’s expected of him for the life he’s always really wanted.
Release Date: February 24, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Melodrama
Wesley Deeds is a very successful man, thanks to his taking over of the company his father built. A company his alcoholic brother Walter (Brian White) thinks he should be running. Things are not perfect in the Deeds family; an overbearing mother, Wilimena (Phylicia Rashad), doesn’t help matters nor does a jittery and uptight bride-to-be Natalie (Gabrielle Union). Wesley (Tyler Perry, who also wrote and directed the film) is living a life he never planned or necessarily wanted. His real dream was to ride across Africa with his college buddies and build water wells. That never happened, but his need to help someone comes in the form of a homeless woman who works in his building, Lindsey (Thandie Newton) and her daughter. Wesley takes it upon himself to help Lindsey, the only way he knows how, with his money–even if it is done indirectly at times and at others blatantly in your (her) face. There is also of course a hint at romance between Wesley and Lindsey, even if he is engaged to Natalie. The love triangle is not of importance in Good Deeds; Wesley having to deal with his alcoholic, ranting brother Walter is painstakingly present far too often, and his mother’s poison tinged remarks as well. Good Deeds is about a man finding his way, while helping a less fortunate soul, but it is not a film made for the big screen. Good Deeds is a movie lower than that of a made-for-tv film on the Lifetime network; it falls into soap opera territory.
It is the soapy-ness of the film that makes it watchable, surprisingly enough, but no where near a wholly positive moviegoing experience. Thandie Newton’s performance as Lindsey saves the film from utter ruin, as the other characters are obnoxious at their best or unforgettable to say the least. Newton can act, and she has a great range of emotion that she evokes in Good Deeds. Her character carries the film, giving the scenes she is in (or most of them) a greater depth that draws a viewer to her and her plight. The romance she finds herself in with Wesley, or lack thereof, is the only part of the film where she is slighted on performing up to her capabilities. Thandie Newton deserves better than scenes written with incompetence and lacking any substance or proper timing between beats. But that is what she is given, leading the movie away from being a strong supportive story of a woman overcoming societal obstacles and into romantic drama hell.
It is surprising that Good Deeds is able to hold the viewer’s attention for nearly two hours. Or that it does not offend you completely when it ends over the stupidity of the third act as it settles for standard Hollywood genre fare than having substantial meaning or clear motivation. Tyler Perry has made a film that fits perfectly with the Richard Marx he uses on the soundtrack; it is overly melodramatic and unbelievably capable of not ever being forgotten–and neither of these things are considered good.
Tyler Perry is no stranger to admitting he makes movies for African-Americans. His main goal in every film is the same; to cast an all (or nearly all) Black cast and have them deal with real-world problems that affect an African-American in today’s society. A most common theme is that of the African-American woman’s plight, as is seen in Good Deeds with Thandie Newton’s character Lindsey. As what one could call, even given his dichotomy, a progressive filmmaker for Black actors it is surprising that Tyler Perry cannot write an actual progressive film. What Tyler Perry has done with Good Deeds is take a run-of-the-mill Hollywood romantic drama and cast it with (nearly) an all Black cast. A movement towards changing the perceptions of race in our culture through cinema Tyler Perry style does not exist in Good Deeds. The film is more similar to Pretty Woman or Maid In Manhattan than anything Spike Lee has ever created. Add to this the soap opera feel the entire film possesses and there is nothing positive for any race, gender, class, or person in Good Deeds.
Credit must be given for the background story he gives to Thandie Newton’s Lindsay. Instead of having her an uneducated Black woman who has become homeless because of her own mistakes and problems (like drug use, for example), Perry makes her a woman who has simply had a string of bad luck since her husband’s passing. Why he gave her an Ipod to listen to instead of having her sell it to buy her child food is incredibly daft and lacking in maturity towards such a situation. Good Deeds is full of these types of occurrences; areas in the script where a character is placed in a situation and then shown to have the means to get out of it, or better themselves in some way, and they do not see the opportunity. The real story behind Good Deeds that Tyler Perry appears to want to show is how a Black man can be successful but still dream of living another life; a life he has chosen. His way of finding this life is rooted in the Cinderella story for Lindsay and her daughter. If Tyler Perry wanted to show a woman, Black or not, finding her way again and overcoming life’s battles, he would have done just that. Instead his character Wesley Deeds plays Prince Charming, and his carriage is a plane headed to Africa so he can ride a Harley and build water wells.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Tyler PerryTyler Perry
- Producer(s): Tyler Perry
- Screenwriter(s): Tyler Perry (Wesley Deeds)Thandie Newton (Lindsey Wakefield)Gabrielle Union (Natalie)
- Story: Eddie Cibrian (John)
- Cast: Brian White (Walter Deeds)Jordenn Thompson (Ariel)Phylicia Rashad (Wilimena Deeds) Jamie Kennedy (Mark Freeze)Rebecca Romjin (Heidi)Beverly Johnson (Brenda)Maysie HoyAlexander GruszynskiIna Mayhew
- Cinematographer: Aaron Zigman
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA