Little things make ‘Good Deeds’ better than expected

Christopher K. Conner

By A Contributor

Overexposure to the previews for Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds” left me numb to the prospect of actually seeing the film.

The plot is so obvious from the previews that there was little to attract me to a two-hour extended version. All that remained was a curiosity about how the film was put together, and that curiosity was slim. So I was expecting little more than a boring trudge through a trite plot.

“Good Deeds” profiles Wesley Deeds (Perry), the CEO of his deceased father’s company. Every part of Wesley’s life has been laid out for him. He was groomed to be a gentleman and businessman. Fulfilling his role, he assumed the leadership of the family business on his father’s death over his wilder older brother Walter (Brian White). Wesley fills the role he was groomed for to the point of monotony. Every day is the same for Wesley, down to the tie and breakfast.

When the company’s largest customer defects to their largest competitor, Wesley faces a busy day reassuring investors and investigating the business ramifications. Hurrying in to work, his parking spot is occupied by a janitor that is also in a hurry. Lindsey is a widowed mother of one that is facing eviction and is desperate to get her paycheck to pay the rent. A heated exchange with Walter over the parking spot shows how even tempered Wesley is, but Lindsey does not see it, nor does she realize she is confronting the two men whose name is on the business she works for. After removing his brother from the situation, Wesley prevents Lindsey’s car from being towed and lets her leave, but instead of being thankful, she is abrasive.

Finding out that she has been evicted and her money stolen, Lindsey is forced to take a second shift, cleaning the top floor, and to take her daughter to work with her. Because Wesley is working late, he keeps encountering Lindsey and starts to question his life and all of the decisions that have been made for him.

From there, there are a limited number of directions to go. The plot is as predictable as I feared, because it can do little else. The movie has a point. The script pushes in that direction, exclusively. What is surprising is that I actually enjoyed the process of following that plot. Subtle things, like Phylicia Rashad’s expression when she, as Walter and Wesley’s mother, would enter “controlling mother” mode, kept me entertained, while watching Walter’s self destructive personality crash against the characters around him added a level of tension. Wondering how far Walter would go to sabotage Wesley made me consider a few alternate plot paths that were left untaken.

Perhaps low expectations left plenty of room for Tyler Perry to work to prove me wrong. Thankfully, he was successful. The characters, while little more than stereotypes in the beginning, end up being just real enough to earn catharsis. I realized as I left that I had enjoyed Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds” and do not regret the two hours I spent seeing it.

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