For as long as I can remember, it has always been my dream to get married, become a mother, and live happily ever after just like my favorite Disney character, Cinderella. My mother would read me this story every night at bedtime, and even as a little girl, I paid close attention to her words. I watched my mother nurture and sacrifice for my brother and myself, and I always said that if given the chance, I would one day offer this type of selfless, unconditional love to a child of my own. I often found myself imitating my mother’s behavior and actions while I was playing with my dolls. I would dress them up, sing to them while combing their hair, and prepare their meals in my little kitchenette. I guess you can say that I always thought of a mother as the primary provider and caregiver of children. Then as I got older, I put away my fairytales and found newer and more exciting things to fill my time as a teenager.
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Now that I am an adult with three children of my own, I realize exactly how hard the role of a mother happens to be and how fairytales can be similar to real life. More and more, I am finding out that not only are there similarities, but parental roles can also be reversed. In fact, a lot of fathers are now playing the role of both parents, as well. For example, my older brother and one of my cousins have custody of their two oldest children, and this was a first hand experience of fathers taking on a mother’s role for me.
Regardless of the situation, playing the role of both parents can be a difficult task, but in many instances, a lot of people (both male and female) end up doing just that. I give much praise to the men and women willing to step up to the plate and face their responsibilities head on. I can relate to this not only because of witnessing it with family members, but I know this first hand because I am living it every day of my life. I am a single mother doing it alone.
In 2007, Lions Gate Films released the movie titled Daddy’s Little Girls, and it quickly became one of my favorites. The movie was one that I could relate to culturally as well as emotionally. It was fascinating to see a movie actually giving a young, African American man credit for wanting to be a father by any means necessary because this isn’t something that we typically are presented with in American culture. Most stories focus on single mothers, and it is always the absent father who is being criticized. To me, the premiere of this movie would present (and hopefully bring about) a positive change in today’s society in the eyes of young men, fathers, and fathers to be.
The movie Daddy’s Little Girls was written, directed, and produced by Tyler Perry. Although Mr. Perry is known for stage plays and the well-known character of Madea (played by Tyler Perry himself), he decided that it was time for him to broaden his talents into film. In this movie, Mr. Perry left behind his wig wearing, gun carrying alter ego Madea (that stars in majority of his stage plays) and went in another direction. However, just because his direction changed did not mean that the underlying themes that he loves to present had to go away. This movie focused on the overwhelming power of family. Not only that, but it also focused on how much can be accomplished when a small community comes together for the overall greater good of the people who live there. The final product showed just how talented Tyler Perry is; he brought forth a movie that was realistic and touched on problems that many face at one point or another in their lives or the lives of their families and/or friends.
The title alone give you insight as to what this movie is about. It focuses on a father named Monty (Idris Elba) and his three daughters. Monty is a single mechanic who finds himself in a fight to gain custody of his children after the death of their caretaker who happened to be their grandmother. Monty and his ex-mother-in-law both want Monty to take care of the children, but his ex-wife and her drug selling boyfriend have other plans for them once they are in their custody. This alone provides you with majority of the basic relationships, as well as conflicts of the movie: father and daughters, man vs. ex-wife, and the community (which is being torn apart by drug sales) vs. criminals and drug sellers.
Although the movie begins with several relationships and conflicts, there is one important relationship left to unfold: a love interest for Monty. This is where Julia (Gabrielle Union) enters the picture, and the storyline becomes a little too convenient for its own good. In order to earn extra money, Monty picks up work (with the help of a friend) as a chauffeur. It just so happens that his first (and only) client is Julia, an attractive, single attorney, and this is where the convenience begins. Monty needs a good lawyer to aid him in the legal fight against the drug dealing couple who has plenty of illegal funds. It is quite obvious from their first encounter that their working relationship will blossom into something much more. As predictable as it may be, it is still entertaining to watch Monty and Julia’s relationship unfold. Both Elba and Union do a wonderful job of performing their characters. Elba brings intense, emotional depth to his role as the father who only has his daughter’s best interest at heart while Union has a great sense of comical timing – something that is certainly necessary for the part she plays.
Once again the convenience of Julia and Monty’s relationship is brought forth and used as an advantage. It allows the story to branch out and focus on another idealistic circumstance in one more conflict: class. Julia’s friends are not the types who would be pleased with or in favor of a relationship between a successful attorney and a struggling auto-mechanic. Their conceitedness allows the movie to take on some of the all-too-frequent stereotypes that are commonly applied to black men, especially ideas about being some woman’s ‘baby daddy” or forty years-old in oversized jerseys and baggy jeans sporting dreads or braids. Monty breaks all of those stereotypes as an affectionate, sensitive, and mature man who continues to struggle as he plays the hand that he was dealt despite those character traits. It’s extremely nice to see this kind of positive male role model portrayed on screen instead of one reinforcing negative ideas, especially with an African American.
However, a movie cannot focus on nothing but the good in its main character (Monty). It also brought attention to his past transgressions. Monty had been arrested in his senior year of high school on charges of rape, and he withheld this information from his attorney and now girlfriend. This lack of communication not only caused problems for him legally but personally as well. Of course, Julia reacts as the typical woman would upon finding out about Monty’s past and she assumes that the newfound information is true. Their relationship begins to deterieorate until she learns of the truth. Once Julia learns that the charges against Monty were false and she comes to his rescue. This part of the movie focused on the fact that true love can conquer anything.
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The Box Office stated that Daddy’s Little Girls was a little like Kramer vs. Kramer with even more complications (?????). This may be true in the aspect of the fact that the storyline has to do with a selfish soon to be ex-wife and loving father fighting for custody of their child, but for me the movie brought back memories of my favorite, age old fairy tale, Cinderella, only in reverse. Think about it. Compare the mean, ugly stepsisters and the mistreated, beautiful stepdaughter to the jealous, married snobbish friends and the lonely, single friend in the film. While the Prince falls in love with the straggly stepsister, and in the film the successful female lawyer falls in love with the struggling male mechanic. You can also compare the wealthy Prince and the poor family that Cinderella came from to the upper class, white collar woman and the financially challenged lower class, blue collar man from the poor neighborhood. The reversal of the story line shows how you can take something old and feed off of it to make it brand new. It’s amazing that as times change, we can transform our childhood favorites into newer stories that can still be enjoyed by all.
In the article titled “Daddy’s Little Girls”, it was stated, “Like the black man’s Frank Capra, Perry tells stories in which every conflict is a test of faith and every victory a testament to the American underdog (Debruge ?????). I also agree. Each victory in the movie spoke volumes as to the fact that the underdog can still rise to the top. The victories in the movie, Daddy’s Little Girls, be it big or small were victories well deserved. It remains true that for every action there is a reaction, and for every choice there is a consequence. Monty chose to defend his daughters after his oldest daughter brings it to his attention that her mother told her “it’s time for you to start your own hustle” (Debruge). His action of violence (which was wrong) led to him being jailed. The community’s chose to support Monty and come to his defense and the consequence was that the gained the peace of mind they deserved from knowing that their terrorizers would face jail time. The courts chose to award custody of the girls to their father and the consequence was that they well placed with the better parent. He also chose to be a hard working man and this earned him the right to become the proud owner of the mechanic shop where he was an employed. Lastly, Monty deserved to find love. Those are just a few of the conflicts that were overcame in this movie, and those alone are enough to make anyone believe that they too can overcome the trials and tribulations of their personal lives. I am a firm believer that you have to go through the test in order to have a testimony.
If you compare everyday life situations to this movie, you will realize that there are many similarities. In the article, “Creating the Myth”, it states, “We live the same stories, whether they involve the search for a perfect mate, coming home, the search for fulfillment, going after an ideal, achieving the dream, or hunting for a precious treasure (Seger 356). This has proven to be true in Daddy’s Little Girls. In this film, Monty is trying to achieve his dream of taking care of his children and providing them with the best life possible. He is also searching for fulfillment by working hard in order to become the owner of an auto mechanic shop. He may have even been looking for love and just didn’t realize it, but whatever story he was trying to tell, it was a success. These types of comparisons bring a different perspective to movies. Most movie goers don’t go to see a film thinking that they can relate every single aspect of it to their lives but simply because the advertisers did a good job catching their attention with snipets of what to expect. The article also states that we refer to stories as myths, and that a myth is simply a story that is “more than true” because somewhere at some time someone lived it (357). This helps to better explain why we as people are so emotionally and culturally drawn to movies and books. We live our lives and endure situation or problems that we think no one would understand. It is a relief to know that someone else can relate to what we go through. No one likes to feel alone, so therefore, we jump at the chance to see or read about someone else that has endured the same issues and learn of how they dealt with them. Some may even try to use this information as insight as to how they should resolve their own problems.
I believe that Tyler Perry accomplished exactly what he intended to accomplish. In the end, it remains that having a child(ren) only makes you a momma or daddy, but taking care of them makes you a real mother or father. Moreover, as my own experience attests, it takes a village to raise a child(ren), and the movie certainly makes this clear. This movie focused on these things while providing us with the hardships and struggles of being a single parent. This fact alone makes the movie award winning in my book.
Although parts of Daddy’s Little Girls may be predictable in some respects, there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. The film is one of those foreseeable “feel good movies” and as such it does its job well. It touches you because the actors’ performances are obviously driven by emotion and strength which lead to a heartwarming film. When the movie is over and the final credits begin to roll, you will feel good and maybe, through the film’s attempts to challenge a few negative stereotypes, you’ll even have a change of heart or at least rethink some of those stereotypes. You’ll even feel better in some ways about the human race and its ability to come together in moments of affliction and trying times. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel good, and you may even want to make a difference. Sometimes that is all we need. Besides, isn’t that what a movie is supposed to do?
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