The Single Moms Club

Posted by Joel Copling on March 14, 2014

I am no Tyler Perry enthusiast--I have seen none of the films starring his Madea alter-ego, and of his standalone features, I have only seen 2010's excellent "For Colored Girls" and 2013's maddening cheat "Temptation: The Confessions of a Marriage Counselor"--so all I have to consider when regarding "The Single Moms Club" is the work itself--at first frustrating and unimpressive but then given a sudden shift into more truthful territory by a third act that luckily plays fair. It's still a modest production, directed with little style and written with a lot of earnest emotion by Perry (who does quadruple duty, also producing and giving himself a supporting role), but it's just as affecting. In a surprising development, composer Christopher Young does much of the heavy lifting.

"The Single Moms Club" follows three--you guessed it--mothers who currently are or eventually will be raising their children singly after their deadbeat husbands or ex-husbands abandon (or intend to abandon) all of them. Nia Long plays May, the single mother to Rick (Massie Z. Dorsey), an unresponsive youth whose idea of a fun time is spray-painting walls at his school. May's husband is no longer in the picture, having abandoned his wife and son and followed it up with a series of broken promises (picking Rick up from school, for instance). Cocoa Brown plays Lytia, whose husband is in jail and whose son Hakim (DeVion Harris) is frustrated with having no freedom outside his house. Zulay Henao plays Esperanza, whose ex-husband Santos (Eddie Cibrian) is rotten to his very core and seeming has no soul, even going so far as to threaten Esperanza's living situation if she has the gall to bring a man (She has one by the way, named Manny and played by William Levy) into the house he bought.

Meanwhile, Amy Smart and Wendi McLendon-Covey play old friends Jan and Hillary, the former an employee at a publishing company whose position as partner is on the line due to her parental priorities and the latter currently in a losing divorce battle with her unseen husband (a powerful attorney who has found a loophole in his annulment proceedings that leaves Hillary with nothing financially on which to stand). Jan is a single mother by choice, having gone the in-vitro route, and she's a classic feminist type to a fault and, eventually, a destructive degree when it comes to daughter Katie (Cassie Brennan). Hillary, meanwhile, longs for sweet-as-can-be contractor Peter (Ryan Eggold) whose noisy job next door is not always a negative distraction, if you know what I mean.

"The Single Moms Club" is far from a subtle film, but this is not subtle material with which Perry is working. If inherent manipulation is forgivable for a film in which Terry Crews appears as an uninhibited ladies' man or Cibrian's Santos is treated as nothing more or less than Voldemort in his despicable ways, then it can and should be forgiven for the inevitable scene in which one of the women's children runs away (This is after the gathering of the title has been initiated by May in an attempt, as the saying goes, to help a sister out in terms of child care and personal leisure, which leads to a climactic breach of trust at a delicate time) or another depicting Santos' sweetly just desserts. "The Single Moms Club" is a rightly melodramatic film that deals in desperate situations by understanding that an occasionally over-wrought hand is the fitting one to use.

Film Information

Nia Long (May), Wendi McLendon-Covey (Jan), Amy Smart (Hillary), Zulay Henao (Esperanza), Cocoa Brown (Lytia), Ryan Eggold (Peter), Tyler Perry (TK), William Levy (Manny), Terry Crews (Branson), Katherine Shepler (Jennifer), Cassie Brennan (Katie), Massie Z. Dorsey (Rick), Vanessa Valesco (Veronica), DeVion Harris (Hakim), Eddie Cibrian (Santos).

Directed and written by Tyler Perry.

Rated PG-13 (sexual material, thematic elements).

111 minutes.

Released on March 14, 2014.