"Fool’s Gold: Tyler Perry Misses with NOBODY’S FOOL "
NOBODY’S FOOL is a foul-mouthed, conventional romantic comedy about a controlled and snobbish female executive named Danica (TIKA SUMPTER). Danica’s life is turned upside-down when her ex-convict sister, Tanya (TIFFANY HADDISH), comes to live with her. Danica has made a list of every single trait she expects from her ideal man, but Frank (OMARI HARDWICK), the romantic hunk who owns the local coffee shop, doesn’t fit any of them. Meanwhile, Danica thinks she has met her “soulmate,” Charlie (MEHCAD BROOKS), but Charlie may not be everything he seems.
The movie has a hard time deciding whether it is a drama, romantic comedy, social commentary on the modern black experience, or raunchy comedy in the style of BRIDESMAIDS. It has a strong Romantic worldview, with some positive Christian, moral elements and several lessons about acceptance, redemption and forgiveness. However, its copious amounts of foul language, heavy marijuana use, depicted premarital sex, and light nudity makes its negative, immoral, objectionable content EXCESSIVE. The movie is unfit for any audience except perhaps adults, and then only with extreme caution and media-wise discernment.
As the story opens, Danica stops on the way to her job as an ad agency executive to get her morning coffee from Frank, who gives her free coffee and a rose every morning. Somehow, the good-looking “nice guy” never catches her eye. Instead, she’s in a long-distance relationship with Charlie, whose phone calls and high-earning status distract her from the fact that she’s never actually seen him, even via Skype.
Suddenly, her mother (WHOOPI GOLDBERG, in a hit-and-miss performance) says her sister is being released from prison and needs a place to stay, but it can’t be with Goldberg. Tanya’s constant sexual allusions (including a stray homosexual reference) inject ribald humor into an otherwise predictable plot. Will the crude but streetwise ex-con help Danica find her way, or drown her life in chaos?
“I wanted to go all the way, and that’s what we did,” Perry said of his first R-rated comedy. The raunchy content comes through beginning in the very first scene, where Tika Sumpter, the actress playing Danica, does an extended dance scene in a thong as the camera lingers on her partially nude rear end. The movie’s marijuana references, foul language and sexual immorality (depicted and implied) roll out for nearly two hours. Meanwhile, the main characters openly encourage each other to find fulfillment through superficial things like money and sexual pleasure.
Beneath that, the movie is a traditional rom-com set-up: The single, successful, female control freak writes off the man who’s obviously perfect for her, because he doesn’t live up to her impossibly high, superficial, or idiosyncratic standards. However, the man who seems to meet those false standards lacks heart, compassion and authenticity.
The movie’s excessive immorality, worldview problems and paint-by-numbers conventional plot ruin several positive themes and lessons. Hardwick repeatedly displays depth and realism as he tells other people, including an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting of prison inmates, how he overcame a life of addiction and a stint in jail to become a middle-class entrepreneur. Whoopi Goldberg teaches her daughter that everyone has imperfections, but true love makes those shortcomings bearable. The movie depicts its zanier characters’ marijuana use and sexual promiscuity, but, in the end, these are subtly presented as mistakes made by imperfect but lovable people.
Good acting and Tiffany Haddish’s comedy chops help keep the project afloat. The clichéd characters could easily devolve into parody, but solid performances and comical pacing humanize the characters and make them believable. Hardwick’s balanced and effective performance anchors the movie emotionally. Haddish is foul-mouthed but often hilarious, especially her ad libs in the blooper reel. Chris Rock also makes a fun, uncredited cameo.
The soundtrack, including a “live” performance by P.J. Morton, doesn’t usually intrude on the movie but adds emotional resonance. The shots are sometimes overly blurry, probably because of the costs of shooting things in deep focus where everything’s in focus in the frame.
Although the movie has a lot of potential, it never quite works. There may have been a good romantic comedy hiding in this; or, a comedic raunchfest; or, a Hallmark romance touching on recovery, unrealistic expectations and what really makes love endure. What NOBODY’S FOOL does right can’t quite overcome all the things it does wrong. The excessive immorality keeps MOVIEGUIDE® from giving NOBODY’S FOOL an acceptable rating, but adults who are fans of Perry may gain some insight from its inspirational scenes, it they approach the movie with extreme caution and media-wise discernment.
(RoRo, C, B, Ho, LLL, V, SSS, NN, AA, DDD, MM):
Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements: Strong Romantic worldview that encourages people to find fulfillment through sexual pleasure and superficial attributes and hints that society corrupts “loving” people, but with some Christian, moral of redemption, forgiveness, and accepting people despite their flaws (which is almost strong enough to be a premise), plus a reference to homosexual desires;
Foul Language: At least 103 obscenities (including 28 uses of the “f” word alone [the Tanya character spells out this obscenity multiple times], multiple uses of “s” words, and dozens of obscenities for male and female genitalia);
Violence: Mild and comical violence include joking threats to harm others, and a threat to tackle a bride and groom during a marriage ceremony inside a church.
Sex: Five scenes depict premarital sex, some quite briefly and most with the characters at least partially clothed. The most explicit scene shows the characters nude and grinding against one another, but explicit nudity does not occur. A woman refers to her lesbian attraction while in prison. A character offers to commit adultery. There are numerous, crude and raunchy references to premarital and extra-marital sex, oral sex and manual stimulation. A character regularly jokes about trading sexual favors for personal advancement.
Nudity: An extended opening scene featuring partial female rear nudity as the main character dances in a thong, one premarital sex scene shows male and female hips and legs grinding but without any explicit sexual nudity, several scenes of upper male nudity, and one somewhat blurry scene of rear male nudity;
Alcohol Use: Female characters are shown drinking wine on screen to relax, woman does multiple shots of hard liquor to calm her nerves during a date, and brief talk about AA meetings;
Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse: Strong drug content shows one character cultivating enormous marijuana plants and smoking marijuana on screen, woman recommends marijuana to her adult children, characters make multiple references to smoking marijuana recreationally or with a prescription; and,
Miscellaneous Immorality: A family relationship is clearly dysfunctional but loving and a mother’s wisdom finally brings love, understanding and acceptance to everyone who is troubled or needing moral, spiritual guidance.
NOBODY’S FOOL is a foul-mouthed, conventional romantic comedy about a controlled, snobbish female executive named Danica who refuses to date any man who doesn’t fulfill every criteria on her “list” of traits of the perfect man. However, her sister, Tanya, turns Danioca’s life upside-down when she tries to set Danica up with Frank, the nice guy who owns the local coffee shop. She also aims to prove that Danica’s long-distance “soulmate,” Charlie, is catfishing her.
NOBODY’S FOOL has a hard time deciding whether it’s a drama, romantic comedy, social commentary on the modern black experience, or raunchy comedy in the style of BRIDESMAIDS. The movie does have some solid performances and comical pacing that humanize the characters and make them more believable. Sadly, though, NOBODY’S FOOL has a strong Romantic worldview overall, despite some positive Christian, moral elements, including several lessons about acceptance, redemption and forgiveness. Its copious amounts of foul language, heavy marijuana use, depicted premarital affairs, and light sexual nudity makes its immoral, objectionable content EXCESSIVE. What NOBODY’S FOOL does right can’t quite overcome all the things it does wrong.