×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: Tiffany Haddish in ‘Nobody’s Fool’

Who needs Madea when you've got Tiffany Haddish? She's furious and funny but the one spark of life in Tyler Perry's droopy romantic drama.

Director:
Tyler Perry
With:
Tiffany Haddish, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Whoopi Goldberg, Amber Riley, Mehcad Brooks, David Arveson, Missi Pyle, Jon Rudnitsky, Nev Schulman, Max Joseph.
Release Date:
Nov 2, 2018

Official Site: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8097306/

It’s probably no coincidence that Tyler Perry chose this week, just days before the release of his latest film, “Nobody’s Fool,” to make the announcement that he is planning to retire Madea, the rowdy, blaring, acid-tongued, tiny-pistol-toting church lady from hell who will dress down anyone under the Atlanta sun who crosses her. The madly exuberant matriarch, who will be making her final screen appearance in 2019, has always been the spark plug — the anarchic TNT — of Perry’s comedies. And that makes you wonder: Will he now be looking for surrogate performers to replace that energy?

Of course he will — and, in fact, he has already found one. In “Nobody’s Fool,” Tiffany Haddish, with her unchecked rage and triumphant lewd abandon, plays the first Tyler Perry character who could stand glare to glare, threat to threat, uncorked insult-from-the-hood to uncorked insult-from-the-hood to Perry’s gale-force grandma in drag. She’s like Madea as a young criminal scamp (a movie I’ve always thought Perry should make). But in “Nobody’s Fool,” Tiffany Haddish is just furious and funny enough to make you wish that the rest of the movie wasn’t a droopy romantic comedy without the comedy.

She plays Tanya, the abrasive, ne‘er-do-well, shoot-off-her-mouth ex-con sister of Danica (Tika Sumpter), an impeccably groomed and status-conscious New York advertising executive who tries to control every single aspect of her life in a way that’s so stultifying you realize the only place you’ve ever seen a character this inhumanly meticulous and over-organized is in a paint-by-numbers movie. But when Sandra Bullock used to do this sort of thing, it was meant as a joke. Tika Sumpter, with android hair parted down the middle and a smile that flicks on and off like a faulty neon sign, is dead serious playing a woman who needs to wake up from illusions that the audience can see through in 30 seconds.

Early on, she goes to retrieve Haddish’s Tanya, a former crack addict and petty criminal who’s getting out of prison after having served five years. When Danica shows up, Tanya is already banging a stranger in the parking lot, and Haddish just takes off from there. “All this s—t is yours?” she asks Danica after one look around her designer apartment, where she’s planning to crash. “You didn’t have to give up your ass?” In “Nobody’s Fool,” it’s that insistence on the ho’s-eye-view of the world that gives Haddish’s line readings their nasty combative edge. Her Tanya is ignorant and domineering, selfish and lusty, and proud of it. It’s all a survival tactic (you can’t put someone down who’s already done the work for you), but Haddish turns hood ‘tude into a form of verbal hellfire. Like Madea, she’s an agent of chaos, though in this case her main function is to smash open the contrivances of the plot.

Each morning, before going up to her office, Danica stops into a coffee place owned by Frank (Omari Hardwick), the bearded and gentle-eyed chivalrous dreamboat behind the counter, who always gives her a free coffee (and, sometimes, a rose) and wastes no time helping her out by hiring Tanya as a barista. But Danica, you see, already has a boyfriend — a man named Charlie she met on-line and has been “dating” for a year, even though she’s never laid eyes on him. He works on an oil rig, and keeps telling her that there’s no wi-fi out there; he can’t even talk to her on Skype. Clearly, there’s something wrong with this picture, but it takes Tanya to come up with the theory that Danica is being catfished — and, in fact, Tanya emails the hosts of “Catfish: The TV Show,” Nev Schulman and Max Joseph, who uncover what appears to be the imposter pretending to be Charlie. (He’s played by an unbilled famous comedian, under a mass of Jheri Curls, in a cameo that’s working to be funnier than it is.)

So after all this, what’s stopping Danica from getting together with the adoring hunky Frank? She learns that he served seven years in prison for armed robbery, and is also a recovering addict, and that sets off a red flag for her. But it’s really a red flag of snobbery. “Nobody’s Fool” is a movie about a nose-in-the-air corporate control freak who must learn to accept the damaged legacy — and, implicitly, the racially driven pain — of her beau, and also her sister.

It’s another Tyler Perry film with a lot of lessons, and I don’t want to come off like I’m looking down on that (which I don’t), but good lessons don’t necessarily add up to a good movie. Not even when Whoopi Goldberg pops up to steal a few scenes as Danica and Tanya’s perpetually stoned-out-of-her-gourd mother. “Nobody’s Fool” is about a woman who ends up having to see through a series of fools, including herself; she’s got to climb down off her high horse. There’s a tradition of that in romantic comedy, but it’s one that thrives on characters who have more charm — less high-strung neurotic astringence — than Sumpter’s Danica. Next time, it would be great to see a character like Tiffany Haddish’s Tanya get all the good lines, and all the romantic emotionalism too. Put another way: What would it look like if a young Madea melted?

Film Review: Tiffany Haddish in 'Nobody's Fool'

Reviewed at Regal Union Square, New York, Nov. 1, 2018. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 110 MIN.

Production: A Paramount Pictures release of a Tyler Perry Studios, BET Films production. Producers: Mark E. Swinton, Will Areu. Executive producer: Tyler Perry.

Crew: Director, screenplay: Tyler Perry. Camera (color, widescreen): Richard J. Vialet. Editor: Larry Sexton. Music: Philip White.

With: Tiffany Haddish, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Whoopi Goldberg, Amber Riley, Mehcad Brooks, David Arveson, Missi Pyle, Jon Rudnitsky, Nev Schulman, Max Joseph.

More Film

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: 'Us' on Track for Second-Highest Debut of 2019 With $67 Million

    Jordan Peele’s “Us” is on its way to scaring up one of the biggest debuts of 2019, with an estimated $67 million from 3,741 North American locations. Should estimates hold, “Us” will be able to claim several milestones: the highest debut for an original horror movie (the biggest launch for any horror pic goes to [...]

  • 'The Dirt' Review: A Mötley Crüe

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

  • Zac Efron Amanda Seyfried

    Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried Join Animated Scooby-Doo Film as Fred and Daphne

    Zac Efron has signed on to voice Fred Jones while Amanda Seyfried will voice Daphne Blake in Warner Bros.’ animated Scooby-Doo feature film “Scoob.” It was revealed earlier this month that Will Forte had been set to voice Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, while Gina Rodriguez would be voicing Velma Dinkley. The mystery-solving teens and their talking [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content