Tyler Perry's "Meet the Browns" is his latest contribution to the cinema, and with a bit of tacked on after-thought, manages to wedge the staple character Madea into the film in a teeny tiny way to boot.
Single mom Brenda is raising her talented basketball playing son Michael, Tosha and Lena in Chicago. She loses her factory job when the plant closes and relocates to Mexico), then gets a letter of her father's death and includes bus tickets to the funeral in Georgia; she's never met her dad.
Brenda isn't red-hot on the Georgia bus trip idea at first. He meets Harry, a sort of talent scout/coach/recruiter who is interested in Michael (and asks to speak to their parents, apparently thinking Brenda was Michael's sister). After a few more turns of the wheel of Fate, Brenda decides to go to the funeral with the kids. In Georgia, she again meets Harry, who is conveniently from the very home town where Brenda's father lived.
If you've seen any of the other Tyler Perry films, you've probably seen this one. Or if you've seen any number of other films where we go from the hustle-bustle of big city live to the slow-paced South, you've seen this one. "Sweet Home Alabama" leaps to mind, but I suppose yes, that's *much* different, given Alabama and Georgia are not the same state.
The vast majority of the Tyler Perry characters are here, too, including the briefly noted Madea. Her part could have been cut out and not impacted the plot in the slightest: the police chase she was leading in the previews is the extent of her screen appearance (but thus, Tyler Perry got himself on-screen in his dress).
"Daddy's Little Girls" it's not, though by and large, the online scores as a whole seem to under-appreciate Perry's films across the board. I will admit the Madea series has somewhat worn on me, but the break from that cookie-cutter in "Daddy's Little Girls" and "Why Did I Get Married?" was at least a decent attempt to do something a wee bit different (with "Diary of a Mad Black Woman " seemingly his cross-over piece as Madea is nudged toward being a background character). The results may not be stellar, but I'm okay with awarding partial credit for effort.
Angela Bassett (Brenda) delivers a strong performance, and in some respects, is the only one who stood out for me. Others came across as somewhat more two-dimensional, possibly in that for more than a few of the cast, their acting resumes are largely focused on being in other films from Perry, and they've not had a full opportunity to hone their talents. (Or the more jaded possibility, that they lack the true talent of a full-range actor or actress.)
There's the usual morality play sort of messaging (good moms stick by their kids, dads don't leave, etc), but those themes are familiar and can be had anywhere. All told, "Meet the Browns" may be something to grab on Netflix, or if you simply must own it, I suspect it'll make it into a Tyler Perry box set soon enough, and you can grab it then.