Before taking a hiatus from movie making to focus on television, prolific, Atlanta-based filmmaker Tyler Perry turns his attention to a group of single mothers who, despite their socio-economic differences, turn to one another for support, reflecting the idea that it takes a village to raise a child.
After their troubled preteens have misbehaved at an elite Atlanta prep school and are facing expulsion, the moms are summoned to a parent-principal conference where they're punished for their children's transgressions by being forced to organize a dance and fundraiser. And anyone who's ever served time in the PTA knows how tedious that can be. So the five disparate women band together to pay their penitence, forming a baby-sitting service for one another, taking turns so the other four can enjoy a night out and, perhaps, romance.
There's May (Nia Long), a struggling journalist/aspiring novelist whose husband has disappeared; Hillary (Amy Smart), a pampered, newly divorced socialite who is forced to fire her nanny; Esperanza (Zulay Henao), who is afraid she'll lose financial support from her sleazy ex-husband (Eddie Cibran) if she gets serious about her boyfriend (William Levy); Lytia (Cocoa Brown), a sassy, struggling Waffle House waitress whose two older children are in prison, while her youngest son is on scholarship at the exclusive school; and Jan (Wendi McLendon-Covey), an uptight publishing company executive who, coincidentally, recently turned down May's manuscript for being "too black."
While writer/director/producer Perry dutifully integrates their individual stories, the syrupy characters are, nevertheless, one-dimensional and cliched. As a result, the pace is inconsistent and plodding, leading to a far-too-tidy conclusion. According to Perry, his aunt served as inspiration, having raised four boys by herself and never taking welfare. "This is my homage to her and every single mother out there," Perry says.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club" is a formulaic 4, a contrived, heavy-handed melodrama about camaraderie and the value of female solidarity.