Plot Holes and Coincidences
By Mary J. Schirmer
It's hard to argue with financial success, and in the case of writer/actor/producer/director Tyler Perry, you're talking millions of dollars. So I suppose one could forgive him a few screenwriting lapses.
However if I'd submitted a screenplay like MEET THE BROWNS to an established production company, I can't help but wonder what the creative development assistant (translation: unpaid intern) would make of it.
Plot Hole No. 1 -- Brenda (the stunning Angela Bassett) has three children by three different men, and yet we're supposed to root for her.
Plot Hole No. 2 -- We only hear about the man who fathered the oldest. Where are the others?
Plot Hole No. 3 -- What happened to the people who shot Brenda's son? No trial? Not even a talk with police?
Plot Hole No. 4 -- What in blue blazes was that car chase all about, except to get Tyler Perry in drag in front of the cameras, and what happened to Medea after being stopped?
Plot Hole No. 5 -- If Leroy knew that Brenda was his father's daughter and that she was living in Chicago, why didn't he tell the rest of the family before contacting her? And why didn't their father stay in touch with her and help her out, since he apparently knew where she was?
Plot Hole No. 6 -- How could Brenda survive back in Chicago when she didn't have a job?
Plot Hole No. 7 -- On the whole, the men in the film are buffoons or rascals. The only career options for teenage boys are selling drugs and basketball. But the women, with the exception of one drunk, are wonderful, and they can keep the families and communities together while they feed their children with no job skills and little money.
Plot Hole No. 8 -- Brenda received in the mail three bus tickets to go South, but four people went.
Now we should address coincidences.
Coincidence No. 1 -- Just when Brenda needs money because she loses her job and the power company turns off the electricity, she gets a letter that her father died and there's hope that he left her some money.
Coincidence No. 2 -- Her son is a really good basketball player, and what do you know? Harry, the man who falls for her (the tall, handsome Rick Fox), just happens to be a basketball agent/player/coach.
Coincidence No. 3 -- When Brenda inherits a rickety house but abandons it to go back to Chicago, Harry has the carpentry, plumbing, and electrical skills and raises money to fix it up for her.
All right, the movie felt like the writer started with an idea of a single mother down on her luck. So who and where is she, why is she broke, who is causing her problems, and how is she going to get out of the mess? This is basic screenwriting.
Ah, ha. There's the source of dissatisfaction with this film script. Brenda does not solve her own problems. A neighbor lady watches the little one for free, people hand her money, someone gives her a house, other people fix up that house, someone drops from the sky to give her son a basketball career, and by the way he happens to be gorgeous, immediately available for an affair of the heart, immediately smitten by Brenda, and living in the same rural community where her father lived.
Brenda did not drive the story, and a main character is supposed to do that.
You might ask, then, how did this movie get made? According to imdb.com, Tyler Perry wrote, directed, and produced this film himself -- that's how.
More power to him. He has two more films in the pipeline.
Mary J. Schirmer is a professional writer who writes screenplays and teaches screenwriting. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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