The Stream: For Tyler Perry fans, it’s not your typical Tyler Perry movie.
The Big Screen: For Tyler Perry critics, it’s not your typical Tyler Perry movie.
The Final Bill: An earnest but cliched melodrama that is an unexpected departure for Tyler Perry Studios.– Trip Fontaine
Director: Tyler Perry
Writers: Tyler Perry
Stars: Joshua Boone, Amirah Vann, Solea Pfeiffer, Austin Scott, Ryan Eggold
Rating: R for some drug use, violent images, rape, brief sexuality and language
Runtime: 2 hours 7 minutes
Production Companies: Tyler Perry Studios
Notable Trailers: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Wendell & Wild, The Good Nurse, Bardo, White Noise
Hey, Streamers! I was looking for some non-horror movie entertainment to fill my time in this the spookiest season. I remembered that Netflix released a new Tyler Perry movie called A Jazzman’s Blues that did not look like your typical Tyler Perry output. It’s a period piece that has some musical elements and doesn’t seem to have obvious family melodrama, like the rest of his filmography. I gave the prolific writer, director, and producer approximately 2 hours of my evening, and here’s how it went.
A Jazzman’s Blues has a lot going on in it. In its simplest form, the movie is the story about star-crossed lovers, Bayou (Boone) and Leanne (Pfeiffer), who are torn apart after spending a summer of falling deeply in love under the cover of night, and how they attempt to retrieve the love they may have lost forever even though their lives have starkly diverged. That sounds very melodramatic and old-fashioned, but there’s something about how it’s portrayed that draws you in. I’m not going to spoil it here because, honestly, you’ll get where the movie is going by watching the first 5 minutes. Nevertheless, jazz singing and Tyler-Perry-ness ensues.
Look, I bought into A Jazzman’s Blues despite my most ardent inner critic. You can prejudge a Tyler Perry movie or you can just relax and let it wash over you. Sure, there are issues here: sexual assault that’s introduced and never addressed; issues of racism that are presented but not really explored; mustache twirling bad guys throughout; poor dialogue; over-the-top and inconsistent acting throughout the cast and I could go on and on. I’m sorry – I also cannot ignore the fact that Ryan Eggold is in this movie doing a completely insane accent, seemingly for no particular reason except to shoehorn a mention of the Holocaust in here. Nevertheless, the story is engrossing and there’s a central mystery that’s just murky enough to be captivating. The Tyler-Perry-of-it-all is inescapable, which makes it teeter on unwatchable. He really needs a co-writer that can help rein in his worst impulses as a screenwriter. Be that as it may…
I will applaud the stellar costumes that appear, especially when the jazz part of Jazzman shows up. There is some good production design, but it does sometimes look like the cheap sets from one of Perry’s TV productions, which can’t be explained. There is a beautiful song that it sung throughout the movie, but the version over the credits is really stellar. I can see that Tyler Perry was really aiming for some awards recognition with this movie and it should be considered. Again, its biggest fault is that the screenplay is still pretty amateurish, but I think the effort is worthwhile and the movie is overall a success if you are judging against other Tyler Perry movies.
Ultimately, A Jazzman’s Blues is one of Tyler Perry’s better movies. Sure, it has it’s cliches and can be obvious at times, but there’s an earnestness about it all that is almost endearing. There are good crafts, particularly the costumes and swoon-y original song. It feels different than your typical Tyler Perry fare, which may or may not be some people’s jam. Keep going in this direction, Mr. Perry, but get a co-writer on your screenplays!!!
Gather around a bowl of popcorn and enjoy this movie when you get a chance, especially if you’re trying to avoid the scary movie glut.