It looks like Tiffany Haddish hasn’t declined a job offer since her breakout performance in last year’s Girls Trip. She’s headlined no fewer than four films since then, and she’s also written an autobiography and toured the country performing standup. Unfortunately, she’s also now in a Tyler Perry Movie.
Nobody’s Fool follows Danica (Tika Sumpter,) a successful ad exec up for a big promotion. After being heartbroken by a previous boyfriend, she’s been dating Charlie, who she met online, for over a year, but she’s never met him. He has an excuse for everything. After she picks up her wacky sister Tanya (Haddish,) from prison, she insists he’s ‘catfishing’ her, and Tanya makes it her mission to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
This is the second Tyler Perry film in a row to mention stereotypes in more than one scene. Stereotypes can be tricky, because a writer either dodge them at every turn or try to find a way to transcend them, and provide a commentary on existing stereotypes, why they exist and say something thoughtful about them. Unfortunately, these scripts are not smart enough to understand how to do that. The way these characters behave is reductive and really should not be celebrated, and should be recognized as insulting.
Haddish, who is usually delightful, is so grating in this. It seems like an improv-heavy script where they’re letting her loose and telling her just to go for it. But that doesn’t work. She’s endlessly irritating in this part. It works better when there’s an outline for a joke, and not just her doing all of this stuff that doesn’t work and is not funny. Haddish needs an agent that just throws away scripts like this. She proved in The Oath that she can do more than just the loud, wacky, outrageous role that made her a star. She’s an actress capable of more nuanced work. While she continues to films like this and Night School, where they don’t know what to do with her, she could miss out on something truly spectacular.
Tika Sumpter is fine, but she doesn’t give you a strong reason to root for her character. Danica, like her recently incarcerated sister, is kind of an awful, irredeemable person, and there’s hardly anyone to root for here. Glee’s Amber Riley plays Danica’s assistant, and she’s charismatic and talented. I wish Hollywood would give her more to do. And also Whoopi Goldberg is here, playing the mother. And she has a horrible wig and is in about four scenes.
This is a horrible, squirmy, miserably unfunny movie, but by Tyler Perry standards, it’s pretty good. The camera is in the right place most of the time, and it doesn’t look like it was filmed in someone’s living room over a three-day weekend. Even the green screen doesn’t look that bad. While it lacks a clear vision, a solid plot or laughs, it’s at least watchable and it doesn’t hate its female characters like most Perry films do. Every character is an idiot, and there’s no saving any of them. The opening credits look like text messages on an iPhone. When the movie is about to meet a rushed conclusion, Tiffany Haddish says to the camera “don’t get up yet, the movie’s not over! Watch this!” before she does something lame and unfunny. And then credits roll, saving all of us.