Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air had a really good interview with Tyler Perry last week to promote his new movie ‘Alex Cross’, where he plays a police detective who has to stop this psychopathic serial killer in Detroit. I had never heard of Perry before, or seen any of his work, but I was so intrigued by the interview, I had to go to the movie!
In the interview, Terry brings out Perry’s hard scrabble background with an abusive father and a Christian mother who helps to instill a relationship with Jesus in her son. Terry gets Tyler to talk about his work ethic that allowed him to save the money to break into the business by producing his first play. It was neat to hear about someone who rose to the top from such humble beginnings in New Orleans. He just seemed on the radio like a guy you would want to know.
In the paper on the Friday I went to see the movie, I saw Ebert’s review where he really panned Perry and the movie, 2 stars. Ouch. Oh well, Ebert blew it on Beasts of the Southern Wild too, so I wasn’t going to let him deter me.
A big budget action-adventure flick isn’t something I normally see, so imagine my surprise when I was totally blown away by Perry’s performance and spellbound by the movie (aside from not looking during the torture scenes). As I left the theater, I was scratching my head wondering what movie Ebert had watched, to pan it so badly and call Perry’s performance comatose and such. I had just watched a guy I wanted to see more of.
Then on Sunday, the local Channel 8 reviewer John Pascuzzi nearly repeated word for word what Ebert had said about Perry. I’m thinking, “What the heck is going on?” What’d they think he was going to do? Go around mugging it like Jim Carrey when he is supposed to be this hardboiled police detective?
I started to wonder what might be causing Perry to get the ‘death sentence’ in Hollywood, bad reviews. Could it be because he is an ‘out’ Christian? I know they are not really receptive to that out there. You are generally better off being gay, a communist or part of the tribe, just don’t be a Christian in Hollywood. Nothing made them happier than when they could jump on Mel Gibson.
It really made me wonder today when I saw a great performance by Ben Affleck in Argo. Talk about a “restrained” performance, I don’t think he smiled once. It’s a superb movie, but a very laidback lead character. So why did Argo get 5 stars and Alex Cross get 2? You tell me.