In Tyler Perry’s latest opus, “The Single Moms Club,” he demonstrates how disparate stereotypes can find common ground through the power of a single cliché. Though not as offensive or inane as his last film — “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” — the new one does maintain his auteurist qualities of social consciousness, schematic narrative, and a combination of piety and smarmy humor.
Here, five women from different backgrounds have, for various reasons, found themselves raising children on their own.
Whiny Hillary (Amy Smart) has just been divorced by her lawyer hubby and is left with no alimony or child support. How is she going to care for her daughter after firing their maid, who up to now has been the girl’s surrogate mother?
Hillary’s best friend Jan (Wendi McLendon-Covey), a career-driven book editor, has no need for men. When she wanted a kid because she believed she could “have it all,” she used an anonymous sperm donor. Turns out that raising a child interferes with professional ambitions, so she signs her daughter up for various activities to get her out of her hair.
Jan demonstrates her ruthlessness by brushing off May (Nia Long), a journalist submitting the manuscript of her novel. But May also is a single mom with problems. Her boy wants to know why his father never visits. Should she tell him the truth?
Like Hillary, Esperanza (Zulay Henao) is husband dependent. Her macho ex-spouse threatens to kick her out of “his” house if she dates another guy. She’s been seeing a poor bartender secretly for a year. Dare she reveal her relationship, lose her home, and alienate her daughter?
Finally, the Madea-esque Lytia (Cocoa Brown) fears her boy will end up in jail like her two older sons and so pushes the boy too hard. He acts up along with the four other kids at the private school they attend, and the five mothers are called into the principal’s office, a kind of “Bridesmaids” go to “The Breakfast Club,” where they are ordered to atone for their children’s misbehavior by organizing the upcoming school pageant.
Despite some friction, they start the support group of the title, where they learn that sisterhood is powerful, and that the key to being a successful single mother is finding the right single man to help out. It won’t surprise you that one of those Mr. Rights is played by Tyler Perry himself.Peter Keough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.