No one will ever accuse Tyler Perry of subtlety.
In film, the writer-director wears his heart on his sleeve; he's right up front - and what you see is what you get.
I use these idioms advisedly; like Perry's films, they may seem hackneyed and simplistic - but nonetheless, they've settled into our culture because they possess a certain validity.
Tyler Perry and Gabrielle Union are shown in a scene from Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds.”
Perry's latest movie is a good case-in-point.
It's easy to pick out flaws in "Good Deeds," the tale of Wesley Deeds (Perry), a straight-laced corporate exec who falls for a struggling janitor named Lindsey - even though he's already got a fiance.
The storyline is rife with Perry's usual lapses in believability: the ease with which single-mom Lindsey gets evicted from her apartment; Wesley's willingness to leave his pricey car in a "rough" neighborhood; the way he also leaves Lindsey there later despite his vow to stay.
Several aspects of the ending are even more absurd.
And let's not forget the tendency of nasty characters to have a sudden change of heart - though this was also a regular feature in films from Oscar-winner Frank Capra.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that Perry is in a league with Capra; but it isn't merely Perry's latest title that recalls the Sicilian-born director of "It Happened One Night," "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" and "It's a Wonderful Life."
Indeed, the best thing about "Good Deeds" is the Capra-esque decency of Wesley's character.
I've always been attracted to Perry's screen persona - an almost indescribable blend of dignity, quiet humor, genuineness and slight bemusement at the way people behave.
Here, Wesley is sometimes especially surprised by his own behavior; and our easily offended, button-pushing culture would be hard-pressed to find a better role model than his low-key compassion and forbearance even when ridiculed or pushed around.
I once read an essay on the supposed artificiality of Charles Dickens. Attempting to explain the man's greatness despite a fault that most readers recognize, the critic stated that while Dickens' people and plots may not be "real," nevertheless what they represent is real; that is, the ideas, themes and truths behind the narrative are valid - and this helps account for Dickens' ongoing relevance and appeal.
Once again, without putting Perry on a shelf alongside "the Great Inimitable," I find this same quality in Perry's films.
"Good Deeds" is often ridiculous, but its underlying issues - class conflict, wounded pride, single parenthood, manipulating others - are immediately recognizable; and Perry deals with them in a way that brings both healing and happiness.
He's never going to be a critics' darling. But as with "Good Deeds," I can almost always recommend his films; he's a voice of sanity and goodness in a culture that often seems lacking in both.