Tyler Perry has been a household name to some people since he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” in 1992 (and continued staging it later). Other people may only have learned about the writer/actor once he became a filmmaker with his character, Madea, in movies in the early 2000s and subsequent films. And there may be other folks who still have not heard his name until he became the studio head and media titan in 2019, launching Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. Gelila Bekele wrote the biography/documentary, and she co-directed the film with Armani Ortiz (“Young Dylan,” “Ruthless” TV series).
I am not an individual who can quote all there is to know about his life and career. I found the feature documentary to be very insightful and engaging. His filmography can be found on the internet, as only some films are discussed in the movie. The documentary provides details about his birth and upbringing in New Orleans. There are loving memories of his mother and his aunt, as well as traumatic memories of the father he was named after. It was not a loving relationship, leading to a name change to Tyler. There is footage of him in interviews where he discussed the emotional and physical trauma. His faith and faith community are always mentioned, including aspirations in his youth to become a preacher. He did not make it past his first supervised sermon, as the pastor supervising the church stopped him during the presentation to the congregation. We then know he found the theater stage to share his messages.
Aside from the news footage that I had not previously viewed and found of help, there are stars and celebrity hosts on footage/interviews, among the several interviews including Ozzie Areu (Founder & CEO of Areu Bros. Studios), Kenya Barris (writer and producer, “Black-ish” TV series (2014), Girls Trip (2017), You People (2023), Derrick Doose (“Sistas,” “The Oval” TV series), and Lucky Johnson (Queen & Slim) among others. There are numerous to mention, and it is best to watch the film to hear their statements.
No matter what level of fan you are, or perhaps not a fan yet but curious to know more about Perry’s life before fame and how it shaped him, this documentary is worth watching. I did not cry, and yet anyone who has lost their mama already can empathize with what you see on screen.
Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 1h 55m
The World Premiere of Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story was at the American Film Institute [AFI FEST] in October. Now, the documentary is available on Prime Video on Friday, November 17th.
Source: Distributor Amazon MGM Studios