Quite often, single mothers do feel they have to choose between being a mom and having a romantic relationship, or worse, that they don't have a choice. Tyler Perry’s latest film, “The Single Moms Club” promotes the importance of balancing paternal and romantic love and the role sisterhood plays in achieving this balance, although this is not a club that most mothers are jumping with excitement to join.
Growing up in a single-parent home and a nearly fatherless community, I can appreciate the intention of Perry’s star studded ensemble. However, knowing first-hand about the issue was not why I went to see the movie opening night. I was thrilled about the cast and interested to see the latest portrayal of one of Black Hollywood’s sweethearts, Nia Long. Her specific roles in “love jones” as a placid photographer and in “The Best Man," as a polished, matter-of-fact, TV producer, resonated with me, as well as a lot of creative/artsy types trying to balance life with passion. We tend to support our “movie me” (what I call a person’s on-screen persona or facade.) Here she is again, playing another urban renaissance woman, and my favorite type – an author. Long portrays the scattered, sensitive and low-key May, a single mother and a writer on a quest for an agent.
The movie gets off to a slow start and in some parts feels stretched like a massage that puts you to sleep, but it is worth seeing if you are all about women empowerment. This film showcases the bonds that can form through parenthood and sisterhood. In the film, the women were issued out more reality checks than child support checks and were in desperate need of community.
By default, these five mothers form this exclusive club when they realize that their children are the prep school’s Bebe kids. When each is assigned to plan the school’s fundraiser - I assume to make amends, and of course keep their kiddos from being expelled - they realize their common “single mother” thread and experience their own eye-opening moments after so much “sleepwalking”. The film depicts a lot of real-life drama – yes, many times women do cater to their children, and they end up shutting their eyes to their own lives or vice versa; the kids are not tended to enough because mom is too busy with her own dealings. The movie paints this imperfect picture clearly, but it falls short in character development and back story, even with May.
One of the most moving scenes happens in the beginning of the film when May tells her son, “We are a team.” She pleads to her frazzled son (played by Long’s actual son) when he begins to wonder about his father’s whereabouts, and even threatens to live with him instead of his mom. Distressed, May tries to convince him that everything is okay and will be satisfactory, but her face says something totally different. Voids are explicit in the film. Perry touches on that other side of life - romantic love - that can often times get placed on the back-burner when single moms handle the day-to–day obligations solo.
Tyler Perry plays Long’s love interest, but there are no immediate fairy-tale endings. Once again, all the ladies are faced with more melodramatic challenges as they start or keep their dating lives. Dating for a single-mother can be quite embarrassing with the role reversal of the single moms sneaking around with their boyfriends as if they were kids. This reminded me of the classic 70s film, "Claudine," starring Diahann Caroll and James Earl Jones, one of the few movies that gave a realistic portrayal of the pressure single moms feel in developing romantic relationships as hopeful kids eye the relationship as it unfolds.
The film is a bit of a departure from the dramatic, slap-stick and soap opera-like formula that Perry often delivers. It is about adults making mistakes, and if open to correction, the awakening that can occur from embracing others. And lastly, the ongoing celebration that comes with being a mom and being in love!
Texan Blogger, Micole Williams is an educator, filmmaker, author and entertainment columnist for Empower Magazine and www.will-m-power.blogspot.com. Info on her "Tangled Web of True Love Tales" book/film/web series can be found at www.twotlt.weebly.com. Follow her on new page, #TWOTLT (theTWOTLTseries) on Twitter.