Daddy's Little Girls AKA Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (7th December 2007).
The Film

I'm not sure why this movie got such bad reviews. It's not a bad movie, but it's just not a particularly terrific one. It's light, simple and is ultimately pretty innocuous. Writer/director/producer Tyler Perry wants to pack in a lot of things in here and it seems he can't quite make them gel as well as he wants them to, so the audience, I assume, doesn't come away with any clear idea of what the movie wants to say. I mean, personally, my favorite character, Byron, is the blind date that's supposed to be annoying and undesirable. He may be cartoony, but he's the only character in the movie with any life or energy. I would have rather seen his story than the one told.

After watching this movie for about ten minutes, I wasn't impressed. There was bad acting, bad dialogue, clunky exposition and a manipulative set-up. Luckily, it mostly gets better. The set-up never pulls for needless emotion, the bad dialogue gets smoothed out and the bad actors aren't seen too much. That doesn't mean the movie gets perfect, however. The movie is about a father (Idris Elba) who loses custody of his three girls to their irresponsible mother and her drug-dealing boyfriend. Realism is then thrown out the window because the mother, by any standard you chose to measure her, is a far worse choice than the father to raise the kids.

The father then enlists the help of a lawyer, Gabrielle Union, to get his kids back. As different as these two people are in terms of background and personality, you know the Hollywood conventions. They soon fall for each other. The relationship between Gabrielle Union and Idris Elba seems to be very high school-like at times, which questions the maturity of an Ivy League-educated lawyer and a responsible man raising three young girls. I don't like movie that show seemingly smart people doing stupid things when it suits the movie. If you lie to your lawyer (especially in a movie!) you know it's going to come back and bite you in the rear end. This leads to some pointless and needless plot points that only serve to take away from the movie's impact. These characters would grow regardless of whether or not the father told the truth. In fact, I think the character would be better had he told the truth.

Some bits of the movie don't seem very realistic, like the mother taking over care of the children. Everything seems to be too convenient, also. Information comes at the right time simply to explain what the characters are like. I'm thinking of Miss Union's confession in the car. This little point only takes some thirty seconds but it's not really necessary. It only adds to the high-school-like mentality of the character. She's been hurt in the past. That's okay, but so has everybody else that's ever lived.

The movie plays out with no real surprises. It's very typical and the plot points are hit at the right time. Luckily, Tyler Perry never pushes too much for the emotions. Tonally, the movie swings back and forth between light romantic comedy (in the bar with the main characters) and urban drama (the riot), but that never bothered me. What bothers me is that these situations are too convenient and the characters aren't mature enough for who they're supposed to be. As far as the courts go, they seem to be realistic as long as the situation serves the whim of the director.

For all that, there are some nice sentiments in this movie. A few thoughts are touching and though they may seem a bit idealistic and the movie glosses over them, they are still there. The father's ideas about parenting are really nice.

If the movie had a bit more focus, it would be a lot better. The movie also has its sweeter moments. For some reason, I enjoyed the sequence in the bar. I also really enjoyed the Byron character and I wish he wasn't such a throwaway character. The movie needed him. As it is, though, the movie isn't bad. Like I said before, it's just not terrific.

Video

1.85:1 widescreen. Overall, the picture is very nice, clear and consistent. It's not perfect, as the slight grain does create moments of mosquito noise in a few shots. The level of grain, also, seems to vary slightly in some shots, giving the movie a slightly soft and flat look. The colours, though, are very nice and pop out of the screen. They look very natural. The contrast is nice, and the detail is very good. Wrinkles and individual hairs are pretty clear. The print is clean and clear, though I did see a few tiny specks. It's a nice picture.

Audio

The movie comes in English PCM 7.1 (6.9 mbps), English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (1.5 mbps) and a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX tracks. The tracks are very open and natural, though the PCM has the obvious edge, in being clearer and more transparent. The dialogue is always clear, and is never impeded upon by the music or other sound effects. Because this is a dialogue-driven movie, this is the most important part of the audio. The rears could be used a bit more, as some sounds come in the front when they shouldn't, but overall the track is very clear and consistent.

English and Spanish subtitles are present.

Extras

To make things easier, I'll add the extras as they are grouped on the disc, but I'll add an asterisk (*) next to the high-def exclusive extras.

This disc has some very nice extras, so let's get started! The first thing you'll see on the menu is the commentary by by producer/writer/director Tyler Perry. Mr. Perry is very frank, but he also loves his movie very much and thinks very highly of it. Depending on your view of the movie, this is commentary will either be genuine or self-important. The most annoying thing is that he praises and gushes over every single performance, whether the actors are good or not. He also mentions where he shot various scenes, using real locations. The script and its changes are also talked about. He does an okay job of explaining the movie for you, though sometimes he comes off as being a big self-important, because he always seems to mention everything he did, his previous work or actors that were in his previous movies.

Next are a series of Featurettes (and one extended scene), totalling about 47 minutes. Apart from the movie's making-of featurette, they're pretty good, with nice behind the scenes footage. The featurettes are:
- Extended Church Scene (7:50) – the big extension here is the inclusion of an entire gospel singing sequences, which is very nice. Putting it all in the movie would have been a bit much, though, but the best bits are in the movie.
- Atlanta Aquarium: Working Underwater (2:19) – the director and crew talk about the privilege and challenges of shooting inside the world’s second largest aquarium. Mr. Perry has an interesting story about a tiger shark
- Tyler's Team (14:07) – this is some rather typical EPK-style material, where the director and cast talk about working together. Mr. Perry goes through the actors, from Mr. Elba to Miss Union to the McLain Sisters and says how lucky he was to get them and how great they all are.
- Introducing the McLain Sisters (4:23) – the three ladies that played the lead's daughters have their own featurette here, and it's basically the entire cast gushing over them.
- Touring the Sets* (6:03) – here, the set designer walks around the house and a few other sets to explain the details and thought that went into the making of the set.
- Conducting Chaos: The Riot Scene* (6:50) – Mr. Perry and gang here talk about how they created, prepared and shot the big scene. The behind the scenes stuff is pretty nice.
- The Oakland Cemetery* (5:28) – again, the director and a few others talk about New Orleans and Atlanta and how important it was to shoot in this cemetery (in Atlanta). A few nice stories about it are told.

Next up are a series of Deleted Scenes*, about 21 minutes in all. The scenes don't add much, except to my liking of Byron. A few scenes, like 'Monty Needs Money Back' and 'Not Good Enough' are not really necessary and are much better left out of the movie. 'Basketball Trophies' and 'Julia at the Bar' add a bit of character stuff, but not enough to warrant inclusion into the movie. My three favorites are the ones with Byron, though: 'Attorney Fine', 'It's a Gift' and 'Booty Drawer'. (Incidentally, the last time I was on the can, I found myself singing 'Booty Drawer'!) Here are all the scenes: Monty Leaves Garage (0:29), Miss Kat’s Funeral (2:39), Drive-By (1:19), Basketball Trophies (1:20), Monty Needs Money Back (2:30), Julia in Court (0:42), Attorney Fine (0:49), It's a Gift (0:30), Booty Drawer (1:05), Joe at Work (2:09), Byron at Café (1:24), The Girls Visit (1:14), Courtroom Prayer (0:20), Julia in the Bar (2:21), Not Good Enough (0:24) and He Needs You (1:24).

A couple of Gag Reels* (2:17 and 2:27) are next. They're actually kind of funny and they have some good bloopers. They do show the camaraderie on set, which seemed very nice. I'm at a loss to know why these weren't included on the standard DVD release, because they're not very long, but I'm glad they were added here.

Uncut* scenes are next. 'Julia Rap Uncut' (1:18), 'Booty Drawer' (1:44) and 'Restraining Order' (1:18) are pretty nice. They all feature Byron and the second one, especially, made me laugh. It's basically Craig Robinson going crazy with is character. The scenes are pretty funny.

The last thing is More (1:08), which is bascially a minute-long trailer for Mr. Perry's TBS show, 'House of Payne'.

Overall

The Film: C Video: B Audio: B Extras: Overall: B-

 


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