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Movie Review

Danica knows what she wants out of life, and she knows how to get it. Well, mostly.

Danica's a successful advertising executive making in "the high six figures," we're told. (Clearly, I'm in the wrong line of work.) She has a fabulous New York City apartment, and she seems to like (for some reason) that most of her furniture is pink.

Danica has a plan for her relationships, too. A list of everything she's looking for in a man. That list keeps her from being distracted by Frank, the coffee-shop owner who keeps giving her roses (though he clearly falls short when it comes to checking her requisite "six-figure income" box), and it helps her to stay focused on her beau, Charlie.

Only problem: She's never seen the guy. Not in a year of long-distance dating.

Tanya, Danica's sister, knows what she wants, too—mostly sex and dope and a place to stay and more sex. Like Danica, she knows how to get it—so well, in fact, that she was sent to the slammer for five years. Now that she's out, she plans to stay away from all that stuff she wants and to focus instead on what'll keep her out of jail: a steady job. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Mature stuff like that.

Oh sure, she may still sell some weed now and then, just to keep from getting rusty. And doling out a few low-cost sexual tricks never hurt anyone, right? So even if she moonlights in some off-the-books "freelancing," Tanya will still have plenty of time to help fix up Danica's life.

Because boy howdy, does Danica's life need fixing. She needs to get her act together—and Tanya's just the person to do it.

Positive Elements

Let's first focus our attention on Frank, the coffee-shop owner. You know, the guy with the roses. I know I hardly paid any attention to him up top, and neither, at first, does Danica. But in truth, Frank's just about the best person in this whole terrible movie. He might be, in fact, the only character here in the running for that title.

Frank was married once, but he admits that the relationship's failure was "all on me." He also cares for his (rarely seen) son. Frank spent some time in prison—seven years' time, in fact. But once he got out, he turned his life around. He worked hard to conquer his own addictions and put himself on a better track. Now he leads AA meetings and some sort of counseling session with current convicts, preaching the benefits of good decision-making and self-reliance. "If you really want to be happy," he tells Danica one day, "just change it."

As for Danica and Tanya and their slightly crazy mother, Lola … well, they're family. Like most families, they love each other and, mostly, support each other. Sure, Lola foists Tanya on Danica and won't let her un-incarcerated daughter stay with her. (But given what we learn of Tanya, that just smacks of common sense.)

Spiritual Content

A marriage takes place in a church, and someone during the service promises not to profane the holy sanctuary by swearing. Tanya says she's on a better path since she "talked to the Lord"—before she reveals that "lord" is simply short for a guy named Warlord, one of Tanya's unsavory associates. We hear someone say "thank God." Someone else talks of managing a sex-related physical malady with an African ritual that involves calling on his ancestors.

Sexual Content

So. Deep breath time.

When Danica goes to pick up Tanya from prison, she finds her sister in the back of an SUV (parked in the prison parking lot) having sex with a temporary paramour (who, we learn, was actually at the prison to visit his wife). They're mostly clothed. But we do see them in a variety of sexual positions as Tanya carries on a conversation with Danica.

Danica also has sexual contact with two other men—having near-intercourse with one when she's arguably in a relationship with the other. Multiple sex scenes (including a quite lengthy one) depict garments being removed, sexual positions, noises, movements and lots of skin (though explicit nudity is strategically avoided).

The "near intercourse" scene I mentioned above is played for laughs, but it could be interpreted almost as a sexual assault. Danica and her beau-of-the-evening tumble into his hotel room, and Danica tells him that they should just make out. (She reiterates that those were her only intentions when talking to a friend later on.) The guy, however, is intent upon going all the way, as is implied by the intimate and explicit sexual activity that transpires. He also tells Danica, as they almost have sex, that she reminds him of his mother. Afterward, we see his bare backside as he washes himself off in the bathroom.

At the coffee shop, Tanya instructs Frank on how to fix his espresso machine, turning the lesson into a smutty sexual encounter (at least on her part). Tanya appears to climax when Frank finally gets the coffee machine working again. She flirts with him and makes it clear that she'd be open to having sex with him. (Then again, she literally makes that clear to almost every guy she sees).

While Tanya encourages the hosts of MTV's Catfish show to track down Danica's mysterious long-distance beau, she also talks about the sort of babies she'd have with one of them. She lusts after the gray-white hair of the other host, too, as well as sitting flirtatiously on the guy's lap. Tanya makes dozens of sexual allusions (including references to oral sex and manual stimulation). She says that it's a good thing she got out of prison when she did, because she wasn't sure how long she could keep hold of her same-sex virginity. (She describes one of her fellow inmates as being "hetero-lesbian-sexual," whatever that means.)

We see Danica dancing seductively in skimpy underwear. Some of her garments and nightgowns reveal quite a bit of cleavage. Frank is seen shirtless on occasion, as is another guy. An apparently wheelchair-bound man invites Danica, in crass and graphic terms, to have sex with him.

We hear lots of references to male and female body parts. When Tanya fills out a job application form, she encounters a question asking her "sex." "Plenty," she says. And when the form asks for "position" she makes graphic suggestions about what she could put down in that space as well. (Things go further downhill when she comes to the part asking for "references.") There's some graphic discussion about circumcision.

[Spoiler Warning] Lola, the sisters' mother, eventually says Danica's father could've been "any number of really good people."

Violent Content

Someone sporting Michael Jackson-esque Jheri curls has his hair set on fire: To put it out, he runs around for several seconds before dunking his head in a wading pool. During (or perhaps after) a sexual encounter, Tanya apparently chokes out her partner. Danica worries that the police might find unconscious man, but Tanya insists that he'll wake up eventually. "They always do," she says.

Tanya is said to have a violent temper, and we see evidence of it often. She threatens people and has to be restrained from trying to beat them up. (She plots to poison someone's coffee before being forced to move away from the coffee maker, and she launches herself at a guy in mimicry of a professional wrestling move.)

Someone says that a freak injury involving a pencil and his privates ended his promising athletic career. Frank, we learn, was imprisoned for armed robbery. People fall down as they roller skate.

Crude or Profane Language

We hear about 25 f-words (and see a few more instances of that word being spelled out), as well as nearly 30 s-words. We also hear lots of other profanity, including many uses each of "a--," "b--ch," "b--tard," "d--n," "h---" and "n-gga." We hear "p-ss" and "d--k" a few times as well. God's name is misused at least four times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Lola is often stoned when her daughters talk with her, and she regularly recommends that they try some of her marijuana. When Lola's about to dispense advice to Danica, she tells her daughter to "grab it while I can still focus."

We see Tanya smoking a marijuana joint (for which she claims she has a prescription). At an AA meeting, she proudly tells the other attendees that she hasn't smoked pot for four days. (Tanya thinks she should get a chip for that, too, as credit for the time she's also abstained from alcohol and, perhaps, crack.) During her after-prison sexual encounter, we an SUV filled with smoke, presumably from marijuana.

During a dinner, Danica and her date drink wine, and Danica asks the waiter to bring them shots. We see the two of them afterward, with Danica staring at the restaurant through shot glasses and trying to empty any last remnants of liquor into her mouth. She and others drink wine at several other junctures, too.

Danica invites Frank to have a drink with her, forgetting for the moment that he's a recovering alcoholic. (She hastily suggests they get some water.) We hear that Frank might've been on some other substances when he was arrested, too, and it's suggested that if someone breaks his heart, he might slip back into his old addictions.

Other Negative Elements

Danica struggles to decide between two men, and she lies rather badly to one of them. Her actions can often seem selfish and hurtful. Tanya lies, too. Also, we learn from Lola why she doesn't let Tanya stay in her house: The last time she was out of prison, Tanya apparently stripped most of Lola's house of its copper wire, selling it for a pittance.

Tanya says that "killing a man is hard work," and she adds that killers are bound to release a little urine during the act. (She claims to know from experience.)

Conclusion

Director Tyler Perry gets his share of grief from movie snobs, but from a Plugged In point of view, his stuff can be pretty interesting—even he typically makes us reviewers work overtime. Many of his movies are filled with all manner of sexual and violent and drug content. But many of them have some positive lessons they want to convey, too. And given that Perry's a Christian, his movies can often be (Madea's legendary aversion to church notwithstanding) overtly and encouragingly spiritual.

Nobody's Fool, unfortunately, is not one of those films. This R-rated raunchfest is stripped of any real spirituality and largely free of positive or redemptive lessons. And that frees me from having to say, "Well, the movie's terrible, but at least it had this going for it."

No, this movie's just terrible. Terrible aesthetically, terrible ethically, terrible in every which way a movie can be. For discerning moviegoers, it's an assault on their eyes and ears and better standards.

Perhaps Perry made this movie with us in mind, knowing how hard we at Plugged In work to count swear words in his films. Why, even this film's title does some of our work for us: Nobody's Fool? Nobody should be foolish enough to see it.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Tika Sumpter as Danica; Tiffany Haddish as Tanya; Courtney Henggeler as Hillary; Missi Pyle as the boss; Whoopi Goldberg as Lola; Omari Hardwick as Frank; Mehcad Brooks as Charlie; Jon Rudnitsky as Benji; Amber Riley as Callie

Director

Tyler Perry ( )

Distributor

Lionsgate

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

November 2, 2018

On Video

February 12, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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