ByBenjamin Marlatt, writer at

The Single Moms Club revolves around five single women from various backgrounds. Among them are Hillary (Amy Smart), who’s recovering from a nasty divorce from her attorney husband. Jan (Wendi McLendon-Covey), a book editor who’s trying to prove to her all-male coworkers that she can do just as good a job as they can. May (Nia Long), an author trying to raise her troubled son right without the help of his absentee, drug addict father. Esperanza (Zulay Henao), a single woman that still somehow ends up being bossed around by her ex-husband, and Lytia (Cocoa Brown), a struggling single mother, trying to balance work and her personal life, which involves making sure her youngest son doesn’t end up in jail like her two oldest boys.

Good to see Tyler Perry stretching outside his comfort zone.

These five women are brought together by their childrens’ school principal to plan a fundraiser or else their kids will be expelled.

Yes, way to get to the real source of the problem: selling baked goods.

This film is textbook Tyler Perry, and, yes, I know I’m not the target demographic for it. It’s a connect-the-dots chick flick, the kind where the women are exhausted yet still persevere while the former men in their lives are either deadbeats or massive dickheads. The kind that has to conveniently resolve every single subplot by tying it up in a nice, neat, beautiful looking bow. You know when that moment arrives. It’s at the end when all five leading ladies show up at the event, with the new men in their respective lives, and they all hug and laugh and cry and smile and the audience feels oh so good! This is all to be expected from Tyler Perry, who I have nothing against personally. He sure is a hack writer, but he likes what he does, understands his films are tailor-made for the chick flick crowd, and laughs his way to the bank while doing so.

In all honesty, though, this film really wasn’t that bad. Okay, actually, I lied. It is, but maybe it’s the fact that after witnessing (and I say witnessing like witnessing a horrific crime being committed) Alex Cross (which he only starred in), Temptation (which, yes, I arduously trudged through) and that Madea Christmas movie, The Single Moms Club made out like a bandit and came out smelling like a basket of roses ’cause it couldn’t do any worse.

What worked were the performances from the five leading ladies. Five good performances in spite of the choke on the sentimentality type of story that Perry has made comfortable paycheck after comfortable paycheck doing. We get the predictable first act where they all meet up and a few of them don’t get along, but hey, that’s okay. Give them a couple more scenes and they’ll be best of friends. Then the second act comes along where they’re all just having a blast with their new “Single Moms Club”, and one by one new, sensitive type men start popping up. That only means something terrible is gonna happen with one of their kids, and something does. Then, like I just mentioned, in the third act everything gets neatly resolved ’cause this is Fantasyland and not real life.

For God’s sakes, even in frivolous fluff like Steel Magnolias someone dies.

But, the performances work (that’s about it), at least from the women. If anything, it just shows me that they deserve much, much, much better, particularly Nia Long, who has the most developed role in the film. This is an actress who’s both beautiful and talented, yet judging from most of her filmography, you’d never guess that ’cause for some reason she doesn’t get too many opportunities to show what she’s fully capable of. Either that, or she’s turning down better scripts for movies like this, which I hope that’s not the case. The same can also be said for Amy Smart and Wendi McLendon-Covey (great in Bridesmaids and is pretty much here for the comic relief). These are talented women with bright personalities stuck in such a conventional story.

We never really get too deep into why these women’s children are such trouble-making brats. Then again, the problem must not be that big if it only needs a school fundraiser to make up for it. The subject of the hardships that often come with single motherhood is handled one-dimensionally and is somewhat left at the curb once the women decide they need a man in their life.

This isn’t about single motherhood. This is about five Stellas getting their groove back.

That’s where the film really lost me and just flew off the train rails, killing every passenger on board. It’s not the fact that they want relationships, it’s that when the men show up onscreen everyone is just so emotionless together. Who cares about onscreen chemistry anyway? It doesn’t matter if it’s the dickhead former men or the new, sensitive guys that show up. These relationships are written so incredibly thin and are just tacked on like a cheap sticker. Ironically, the only relationship that has any sort of depth to it, is the one between May and her drug addicted, deadbeat ex who we never see. Otherwise, the men we do see are either assholes to their exes, try way too hard to win the girl, or act like a stuttering fool while uttering euphemisms with Amy Smart about wood, pounding and tight spaces that are funny at first, but just keep on going after the audience gets the point.

I get it. You’re referencing sex.

Oh, and Tyler Perry’s T.K. is technically a stalker, but that somehow doesn’t phase May in the slightest.

In the pantheon of Tyler Perry films, this is certainly one of his better ones. Hold on, ’cause that’s essentially like describing which turd is polished the best. I can’t fault the performances in any way. These are talented women that are able to produce some laughs, but are stuck in a conventional Tyler Perry script that cares more about making sure everyone has a cute, tacky, happy ending instead of providing any depth. Let’s just say even The Sixth Sense handled the subject of single motherhood much better.

I give The Single Moms Club a D+ (★½).

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