Good Deeds Blu-ray Review
Tyler Perry has made a career of putting together and deconstructing the family unit. From his over-the-top Madea films to his more recent dramatic entries – Perry has a gift. The characters he creates are not necessarily identifiable but he plays them with such universality, and inspires the same in his fellow cast members, that you can’t help but care for the people you see on the screen. But even with all of these positives, GOOD DEEDS, Perry’s most recent endeavor as a writer/director/actor, strikes dully on many chords where it could have truly shone.
The story of polar opposites, GOOD DEEDS follows a family at the top of the food chain and another struggling to stay alive, and what happens when their paths intertwine. Perry stars as Wesley Deeds, the CEO of his father’s company where he works with his brother (Brian White as the unstable and jealous Walter). Wesley has lived a charmed life, wanting for little but incredibly unhappy. Wesley has lived his life by the script that his mother and father created. Walter, on the other hand, feels slighted at every turn, and his coarse relationship with their mother increases the tension and pulls Wesley further into wanting to protect his mother and be the son she wants.
When a chance encounter throws Lindsey (Thandie Newton) into Wesley’s life, she tears apart the walls that he has constructed and makes him look at the world as it truly is. Lindsey has a job but has been unable to pay her taxes, so her wages are garnished making it impossible for her to pay rent on her apartment – putting her and her daughter Ariel (Jordenn Thompson) on the streets. But Lindsey works at Deed’s Inc., Wesley’s business, and as their paths cross repeatedly she shows Wesley that he can be a good man and NOT be what he thinks he is supposed to be.
This is a fairly simple premise and follows a lot of easy conventions, but Perry and company fill the roles admirably despite a less than stellar script and some pretty obvious clichés. Thandie Newton is very strong in her role, but Gabrielle Union steals the show as Wesley’s fiancé Natalie – a woman who has grown comfortable with the idea of doing what is predictable. When Wesley starts to behave differently (which he has NEVER done), it throws Natalie and she starts to realize just how trapped she has been in the life that has been chosen for her.
With a stronger script and a little less fakey conflict (sometimes Walter just seems over the top and though you’re supposed to care for Newton’s Lindsey it is hard to see past her rough exterior – she’s just mean for a majority of the movie. The social work aspect was poorly handled (to someone who works with people in child welfare) but it fits with the general concept of what social welfare is supposed to look like. Again, another cliché that could have provided more universality and authenticity to the story that would have elevated this beyond the mediocre… sadly, this one just falls a bit short.
Video: (1080p, 2.35:1 Widescreen) The picture is absolutely stunning even though GOOD DEEDS doesn’t feature anything extraordinary. Perry’s skill at staging a scene is clear and pulls you in.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The sound is poorly presented – GOOD DEEDS sounds nice (when it is even) but the levels are very off balance causing you to constantly turn up and down your television to be able to hear what is happening. It takes you out of the movie at the worst of times.
Motherly Love (09:49) One of only two extras on the GOOD DEEDS Blu-ray, this is a nice (though short) look at the characters from the mother’s point of view. Some nice interviews with the cast (including Phylicia Rashad and Thandie Newton) provide detail to the characters and their backstory that didn’t play well in the film, adding another layer that could have strengthened GOOD DEEDS.
Two Worlds Collide (07:45) Another grievously short extra on this very plain Blu-ray presentation of GOOD DEEDS, this one again is very well done but makes me sad that more extras weren’t included.