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Tyler Perry's
I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF

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NOTE: Another Spoiler by P.D.Chambliss

The movie opens with a rockin’ house number at the Indigo Club (Rock Steady – made famous by Aretha Franklin). Nightclub singer April (Taraji P. Henson) takes the stage with the microphone in one hand and a glass of liquor in the other.

Although talented, it’s clear April is troubled, heavily dependent on liquor and we soon discover why; April’s personal life is in shambles. She is seeing a married man, Randy (Brian White), who announces he has child support problems, his wife is pregnant again and he basically detests kids.  In addition, it’s clear Randy is very controlling but April has tolerated his controlling and abusive nature “because he pays the bills”.

As April sings, we break away to Madea’s (Tyler Perry) home.  Madea has been awakened upstairs in the middle of the night to sounds of her downstairs window breaking.  Madea goes to her brother Joe’s (Tyler Perry again) room and tells him someone is breaking into the house. In a comic exchange, Joe begins to tell Madea she can handle the intruders and then remembers his “weed” is downstairs where the intruders are…so he decides to “help” Madea by following her downstairs.

Madea goes downstairs and discovers the intruders are three children: Jennifer (Hope Wilson), Manny (Kwesi Boakye) and Byron (Frederick Siglar). Although upset, Madea invites the children in to eat and discovers there are several problems. First, Jennifer is very angry and distrustful of people (important later), Manny is very friendly but very ill due to diabetes and Byron doesn’t speak (important later). Madea soon discovers the children are very hungry and they’ve been alone for about a week. Their grandmother left one day and never returned. The children declare their mother has died and their next of kin is their aunt, April.  Madea decides to take the children to their aunt, partially motivated by the desire to make sure they’re taken care of and partially motivated by the desire to recover the sum of $300 for her broken window.

Madea arrives at April’s home with the children in tow. April sees the kids and freaks out – she declares she’s not their mom and it’s not her problem. Also, the presence of the kids would upset Randy who pays the bills but doesn’t like children. Madea insists April handle “family” responsibility and April takes the kids in – but makes it clear they are not welcome. We soon discover April has no maternal instinct. She doesn’t know how to comfort the kids who are distraught because their grandma (Mama Rose) is missing. Madea leaves and April gets into a shouting match with Jennifer.  Jennifer decides to leave but her siblings stay behind.

Meanwhile, a young man named Sandino (Adam Rodriguez) approaches Pastor Brian (Marvin Winans) who is helping the needy on the front steps of the church in April’s neighborhood.  Sandino tells the minister he remembers Pastor Brian did some missionary work in his native country and now he’s in America and is looking for a better life.  Sandino says he wants to find work.  Just as Pastor Brian is about to address Sandino’s concerns, Jennifer runs toward the church steps at top speed.  Apparently, she has stolen something and the shopkeeper is chasing her. Sandino catches Jennifer and Pastor Brian apologizes to the shopkeeper.  Then, he instructs Miss Wilma (Gladys Knight), one of the church members to show Sandino around the church so he can do some handiwork. Subsequently, Pastor Brian takes Jennifer to her aunt April’s home.

Pastor Brian explains Jennifer was caught shoplifting and April flips out. It turns out Jennifer was shoplifting needles for Manny’s insulin shots. Although upset, April agrees to keep the kids until she finds her mother and the kids can go back to live with her.

The Pastor then asks April to help out Sandino.  April has a beautiful home she inherited but she refuses to fix it up (the house is also a metaphor for April’s life…beautiful on the outside but falling apart on the inside).  The Pastor suggests that April allow Sandino to fix the walls and floors of the home in exchange for room and board.  April reluctantly agrees.

Sandino eventually moves in and April has two comedic requests: he must shave his long hair and he must lock himself in the basement at night.  Sandino looks alarmed when April says she’ll lock him in the basement because she “doesn’t know what kind of man he is”.  April suggests since he’s a handyman…he should be handy at using tools to break out of the basement in case of fire!  Sandino reluctantly agrees to April’s requests.  He shaves and April discovers Sandino is strikingly handsome.

The next few days are a period of transition for April’s household and Randy is not happy. Randy, who has come over on a regular basis to sleep with April, discovers the kids are in the house. He flips out and shows how cruel and abusive he can be.  He suggestively offers candy to Jennifer who refuses to take it.  However, Jennifer’s chubby mute brother (Byron) reaches for it and Randy almost breaks his arm. Then, Randy begins to insult Sandino by declaring Sandino must be illegal. Again, April tolerates Randy’s mean-spirited, abusive behavior. As her bartending girlfriend Tanya (singer Mary J. Blige) at the Indigo Club tells her, April’s an alcoholic with esteem issues – that’s why she’s tolerating a married, abusive man in her life.

Sandino proves himself to be a better man than Randy. He takes the high road and refuses to fight although Randy tries his best to corner Sandino. Where Randy is mean-spirited and cruel, Sandino is selfless and nurturing. When April complains the kids are keeping her up by playing soccer in the house (she sings at night and must sleep during the day), Sandino offers to take the kids outside and plays soccer with them. In addition, he buys insulin for Manny.  Jennifer is suspicious and wants to know why Sandino’s so kind to them.  Sandino tells Jennifer she’s doing a great job with her younger siblings and she should expect good things in life. Jennifer disagrees saying she hasn’t seen much kindness in the world but eventually, Jennifer softens up around Sandino.

Eventually, a tragedy surfaces. Pastor Brian and Miss Wilma come by to visit April from the church.  They reveal April’s mom died and was at the county morgue. Apparently, April’s mom was on a bus and had a brain aneurysm.  No one noticed because it appeared she was sleeping on the bus.  Her body was at the county morgue and when no one claimed her – she was cremated.  Pastor Brian and Miss Wilma present April with an urn carrying her mother’s ashes. 

April begins to sob uncontrollably and Sandino agrees with Pastor Brian that he should look after April. As April sits on the sofa, she begins to reveal part of her history with her mom. April has had a love-hate, dysfunctional relationship with her mom. April and her mom had a fight and she stopped speaking to her mom. April tells Sandino her mom spent so much time caring for others that she didn’t care for herself – and it’s tragic because her mom died all alone on a bus. It’s part of the reason why Jennifer is so mistrustful of people.  When Jennifer was age 9, Jennifer’s mom/April’s sister pimped Jennifer out for drugs.  April’s mom came to the rescue again and again for the grandkids. 

At that point, Sandino puts her arm around April’s back and begins to comfort her. April begins to let down her guard and it’s clear she’s not comfortable with Sandino so close (partially because she’s becoming attracted to him and partially because she has Randy as a boyfriend and feels like she’s being unfaithful).  April breaks away from Sandino’s caress and goes upstairs to Randy who is sleeping in her bed.  She climbs into bed crying and begins to hug Randy while he’s sleeping – in hopes that he will wake up and comfort her about her mom’s passing.  Randy awakens a bit, pushes April off of him and goes back to sleep! Other than having sex with April, Randy could care less about her. April rolls over on her side of the bed and breaks down crying.

Eventually, Sandino’s presence begins to open April’s eyes to how dysfunctional her relationship is with Randy.  Sandino has been fixing up a spare room in the house and suggests she’s the best person to take care of her niece and nephews.  Sandino shows the kids the room and for the first time, Byron speaks (he was mute because he never had any stability in life – or a bed of his own).  In addition, Sandino takes April out for a paddleboat ride at the local park and tells her that he cares about her and asks her if she loves Randy.  April gets uncomfortable and ends their paddleboat outing.

All of the drama within April’s household comes to a head one night when Jennifer awakens to the sounds of Manny gasping for breath.  Jennifer gets up and goes to the kitchen to prepare Manny’s insulin injection. Jennifer is startled by Randy who is sitting in a chair smoking a cigarette in the dark.  Randy begins to make sexually suggestive comments to Jennifer who rejects him and attempts to get by Randy to give her brother his insulin. Randy grabs Jennifer and throws her down – attempting to rape her and in walks Sandino with a bat! Sandino cracks Randy across the back with the bat and Randy goes down screaming.  April awakens and comes downstairs.  April sees Sandino beating Randy into a pulp and starts screaming at Sandino that he must leave the house. Sandino tells April that Randy was trying to rape Jennifer and April becomes upset. April doesn’t want to believe it but Sandino repeatedly says Randy tried to rape Jennifer. Randy declares Jennifer “came onto me and asked for money” and Jennifer says it’s a lie. Randy asks April who she believes and Aprils says “you baby”. April then asks Randy to go take a bath. April slowly makes her way upstairs with her eyes in a psychotic stare while Randy bathes.  She walks into the bathroom and confronts Randy asking “what happened”? Randy says “Jennifer attempted to seduce me for money…it was her fault” and begins to look relieved when he thinks April buys the story.  Randy closes his eyes in the tub and April leaves the bathroom only to return WITH A RADIO.  April plugs in the radio while Randy still has his eyes closed. When Randy opens his eyes again, April asks him to tell her the truth. Randy says he didn’t do it and April knows he is lying so she drops the radio a few inches closer to the bathtub water. April starts to scream at Randy that she knows he’s lying because that’s exactly what her mother’s boyfriend said about her when he molested her! It turns out April was molested by her mother’s boyfriend and he lied declaring April seduced him. That’s one of the reasons why April had a strained, dysfunctional relationship with her mom. April drinks heavily because she’s had feelings of anger over being molested and her mom knew but told her “what happens in this house stays in this house”. It was a family secret. While her mom had taken care of the grandkids, her mom had failed her as a child.

Just as April is about to release the radio into the tub to electrocute Randy, Sandino enters the bathroom and tells April not to kill Randy “because he’s not worth it”.  April ignores Sandino. The sexual abuse she experienced along with the fact that Randy tried molesting her niece has caused her to snap. She releases the radio and Randy leaps from the tub to save his life just in time. Sandino gives him three minutes to get out of the house.

Afterwards, April goes to the Indigo Club and drinks heavily.  A few minutes later, Sandino enters and confronts April. He tells her not to feel guilty, she didn’t do anything wrong.  April says she feels guilty because she should have seen the signs that Randy was a child molester – he spent too much time looking at Jennifer’s body when she passed him. April says her mother should have recognized the signs with her and now she’s suspicious of men who take too much of an interest in kids.  Unfortunately, April begins to turn into an angry drunk. She accuses Sandino of being a possible child molester because he’s spent so much time looking after the kids. She asks Sandino “why do you care so much?”  Sandino gets angry and leaves the club. April storms out behind him and yells out that he must be a child molester.  Sandino turns around and begins to scream at April. He tells April she is ruining her own life. She’s afraid of getting close to people so she pushes them away with her hardened tough-girl attitude.  In addition, Sandino reveals he’s been alone since he was little. Both parents died and he was forced into the drug trade as a kid in his native land. Sandino confides he wants something better in life.

Sandino sees Jennifer, Manny and Byron the next day and tells them he’s going away because he had a fight with April.  He promises to write and call them regularly. Before Sandino leaves, he goes to a church service to pray. Jennifer talks to April and tells her Sandino “is a good man”.  She has had so many reasons to be distrustful of people – especially those who were too nice to her. However, Sandino seems genuine. He has always looked out for Jennifer and protected her from Randy’s advances. April’s tough façade begins to crack. Through an open window in her kitchen, she can hear the church choir singing a song her mother loved and she remarks her mom “always knew when to show up”.  Unexpectedly, Sandino returns to April’s house and tells her that he loves her. April asks “like a buddy”? Sandino shakes his head “no” and says he doesn’t want to kiss and make love to his buddy!  Sandino declares he is “in love” with April and loves her more than she loves herself. He says he hates watching her destroy herself by smoking and drinking. April declares she’s not good with relationships and really doesn’t know how to love or be loved.  Sandino says he’ll show her and leans in for a passionate kiss!

Sandino and April marry with Jennifer, Manny and Byron present at the wedding and the wedding reception is a block party with Tanya (Mary J. Blige) singing to the newlyweds.


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