Tyler Perry came up with the idea for Good Deeds when he thought back on his tough upbringing. He wondered how equally hard it would have been to grow up with privilege, but yet having to follow a path that was pre-ordained. Sure, the journey would have been easier monetarily, but still equally as difficult as Perry’s when pursuing a dream that was not the one laid out for you. In Perry's latest film, his character Wesley Deeds runs his father’s computer business in San Francisco and has done everything expected of him. But, it is not where his dreams lie.
Deeds is a highly-paid executive, adored by his controlling mother (Phylicia Rashad), responsible for his wayward brother and engaged to the perfect Gabrielle Union. Then, he meets Thandie Newton’s cleaning lady and it hits him: What he perceived to be a charmed life is not one at all when, at the end of the day, he is unhappy.
Good Deeds is possibly Perry’s most personal film to date. He wrote, produced, directed and stars in the film that is an ensemble piece, yes, but whose resonance lies squarely on his shoulders. His acting has never been better as the character transformation of Deeds is slow but sure as his icy and predictable exterior is slowly melted away by the pure honesty of Newton’s character.
Perry’s cast delivers. Newton runs the gamut emotionally as she paints a picture of a woman struggling to raise her daughter solo after her husband died in the Middle East. She is a walking disaster until she meets Deeds, and their friendship-to-romance journey not only frees her from her quicksand-like life, but also the computer exec that has always done for others without thinking of himself.
Union shines as Perry’s fiance who herself may be living a lie. What’s not to love about a man who has it all? Rebecca Romijn and Eddie Cibrian also provide great supporting roles as a couple who serve as the model of a perfectly married pair. Their shining light of happiness is also what helps Deeds realize what he has with Union might not be all that. And Rashad, as Perry’s mother, is astounding (as usual) as the often cold, but ever classy matriarch of the Deeds clan.
Perry, as a director, has delivered a film with an even hand. The road to its completion is filled with unpredictability and realism. Sometimes on film, it’s hard to commiserate with a character who has it all but is unhappy. In the hands of Perry, as director and actor, he walks that minefield efficiently and effectively.
The themes of a Perry film have always embodied family, responsibility and the caring for one another… even in his outlandish farces. Those not only are present in Good Deeds, but shape and mold the film into what we believe is his best work to date.