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Film / Diary of a Mad Black Woman

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Would you believe that this was based on a Christian-themed play?

A 2005 romantic dramedy film directed by Darren Grant and starring Tyler Perry, adapted from a stage play of the same name.

Helen (Kimberly Elise) and Charles McCarter (Steve Harris) had everything: fine home, beautiful clothes and success. In public, they were the perfect match. But behind the scenes was another matter. On what should have been the end of the happiest day of their lives, Charles evicts Helen, his wife of 18 years, from their house in the presence of his mistress. She moves in with her grandmother, Madea (Tyler Perry). Helen then goes from meek and mild to mad, starts a diary and a new life, and meets a new man, Orlando (Shemar Moore).


  • Accidental Misnaming: Upon appearing before Judge Mablean Ephriam, Madea calls her "Judge Maybelline".
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: In the original play, Helen gets back together with Charles after his Heel–Face Turn. Though at the same time, Charles was considerably less of a Jerkass in the play.
  • Adaptation Distillation
  • An Aesop: People can change for the worse and there's little to nothing you can do about it.
  • Amoral Attorney: Near the end of the movie, it is revealed that Charles got a lot of his money from defending rich criminals.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When the Bailiff announces Madea and Helen's case:
    Bailiff:... Criminal trespassing, Reckless endangerment, Criminal possession of a handgun, Assault with a deadly weapon, Suspended license, Expired registration, Reckless driving, and a broken taillight.
  • Big Fancy House: Charles has one. Helen had one.
  • Break the Haughty: Charles near the end, after being shot and paralyzed, with things going downhill from there.
  • Broken Aesop: You know the moral about loving God and trusting Him with your life and problems and worshiping only Him that this movie tries to preach? Well, that gets broken by Madea of all people who told a tale about a man who used to abuse her who she was so angry with that even when she was at his funeral, she beat him down an extra two feet (from the six feet he was under already), all while proclaiming that she did it because sometimes "God waits too long" to answer our prayers or get revenge on those who we feel deserve it. This may even double as Early-Installment Weirdness given Perry's faith and respect in God and that his later films would have Madea encouraging forgiveness.
  • Broken Bird: Helen starts to become this after her Break the Cutie moment. She gets better.
  • Chainsaw Good: Well, not good for the poor couch.
  • Covers Always Lie: Somewhat, Madea is a mad black woman, but not the Mad Black Woman portrayed in the film, it's Helen.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Madea, in spades.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Implied with Charles and Helen in the end; he apologizes to her, she forgives him and she even says before handing him signed the divorce papers that they'll always be friends.
  • Dirty Old Man: Joe, who ogles both his niece-in-law (who is in her 60s) and his great-niece.
  • Domestic Abuse: Downplayed: Charles slaps Helen in the face when trying to kick her out of his house. The shot of him doing this is so fast, one wouldn't know about it if they didn't mention it. He also grabs and briefly shakes her in anger when she and Madea break into his house to get her money.
  • Drugs Are Bad: There is a plotline with Brian and his wife, Debra, whose drug addiction has caused them some marital problems. Her drug habits and addictions had gotten so bad that Brian kicked her out of the house at the last straw. Don't worry, she got better.
  • Easily Forgiven: Subverted. Helen takes her time to let her hurt from Charles go. While forgiveness is a huge theme in this film, it doesn’t mean that one should forgive others easily.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The moment the audience is first introduced to Madeanote  has her brandishing a handgun onto her granddaughter Helen (albeit she had no idea that she would be at her door in the middle of the night).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Subverted; Madea isn't evil by any means, just a huge entitled jerkass with anger issues, but even she was shocked and disgusted that Joe propositioned his own family member.note 
  • Everyone Can See It: Madea uses this verbatim on Brian about still being in love with his drug abusing wife Debra.
  • Exact Words: When Madea said that half of the things in Charles' house belonged to Helen, she meant it literally. Cut to a scene when Madea literally destroyed a few things in Charles' house in half.
    • Also, when Charles tells Helen that the marriage is over and she desperately says to him "You are not leaving [me]!", he said she was right. She's the one who has to leave.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Helen plays with this; she was initially very reluctant to start a relationship with Orlando due to how much Charles had hurt her, but she eventually gives in.
  • Food Slap: Helen eats a salad in front of Charles, knowing he can't get food for himself, and when she is almost done throws the plate at him. She also threw a glass of lemonade in Orlando's face after he called her bitter and brought up how Charles dragged her out of the house.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Even though Charles apologizes to Helen for his actions and starts treating her better, Helen still divorces Charles due to the fact that she already moved on and found another man. Also, Charles changing into a better person won't nullify his past actions.
  • Get Out!:
    • Joe attempts to order Helen out of Madea's home, citing how she needs to look for a department and even doing a Shout-Out to The Amityville Horror (1979). She does eventually leave, but because she found a place to live instead of by his orders.
    • Brian orders Debra out of their home after he allows her to eat a meal when she came to him in the middle of the night.
    • Charles also orders Helen out of his house three times: first when he dragged her out, again later on when Madea was with her and after his frustration with her being unable to locate some legal documents. Fortunately, by the third time Helen wasn't having it.
  • Gold Digger: Charles' mistress, Brenda is revealed to be one.
  • Hate Sink: Brenda’s purpose of the film is just to be Charles’ mistress with a rude attitude & zero redeeming qualities.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After being shot and paralyzed by his drug dealer client, cleaned out financially by his mistress before she leaves him and takes their children, tortured by his scorned wife for the wrong he has done to her, Charles realizes the error of his ways and apologizes to Helen. Afterwards, he begins to rehabilitate, along with Helen's help, in a montage. At church, he even confesses his sins and turns to God.
    • But of course, that doesn't stop Helen from handing Charles signed divorce papers and leaving to find her own happy ending.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Madea, so much.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Brian and Debra. Then again, Tyler Perry is this with everyone being 6'5'' and all.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: When Brian introduces Helen and Orlando, not realizing they'd already met, which leads to the following exchange.
    Orlando: Hey, I was just trying to help you out the other night.
    Helen: Oh, yeah right. You're no good Samaritan. He paid you. It's not like you're some savior or something.
    Brian: I...I'm gonna go...check something. (Scurries away.)
  • I Know Karate: From this exchange.
    Brenda: I know Tae Kwan Doe
    Madea: And I know whoop yo ass!
  • Insane Troll Logic: Brenda angrily shouts at Helen that she is a woman who "knows how to get and keep her man." Despite this, Brenda was the one sleeping with a married man rather than finding a man for herself.
  • It's All About Me: Charles and Brenda separately. The former is driven by Greed and his hedonistic ways that allows him to repeatedly cheat on and mistreat Helen during their marriage while the latter is a Gold Digger who felt that after he was shot that Charles had no quality of life as a paraplegic and was willing to let him die on the operating table.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: You'll hurt yourself trying to decide how much "gold" is in Madea's heart.
    • Same with Joe. He's pretty much hostile to everyone else in the film, but he does love his two young grandchildren.
  • Karma Houdini: Brenda. Although it was Charles getting his just desserts, but still....
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The second half of the movie deals with pretty much every rotten thing Charles has done coming back to bite him in the ass. His dealings with criminal clients leads to him getting shot paralyzed, his mistress Brenda leaves him to die and takes both all his money and their kids without telling him, and when he has the nerve to still treat Helen like trash even after she tries to help him, Helen finally decides to get even. She delivers a massive "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how being married to him was no picnic on her end, but she at least tried to make it work, whereas he stopped caring. In addition, the stress he gave Helen caused her, among other things, two miscarriages. After returning the next day, she dumps him into a hot bath and starts expressing further grievances. When it looks like Charles is trying to drown himself, Helen stops him, and then later eats dinner in front of him. As a hungry and slowly-breaking Charles starts crying for the maid, Helen takes great joy in telling him that his bitch girlfriend didn't pay the staff so they all quit, and then took all Charles' money, their kids, her things, and some of Charles', and left. She then tosses her plate of food at Charles and leaves.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Helen wanted children with Charles, but had two miscarriages. Meanwhile, he had two kids with his mistress.
  • Love Redeems: Debra finds the strength to go into rehab and kick her addiction for good when she realizes she wants to be in her kids' lives.
  • The Mistress: She also had two kids for Charles and had no qualms about cleaning him out financially, letting him die in surgery rather then live as a cripple, and leaving him after he was shot and paralyzed. She also took the kids with her.
  • Montages: Quite a few.
  • Melodrama
  • Money Slap: After Charles orders Helen, who he kicked out of their home to make room for Brenda and who had snuck in with Madea to retrieve some money to live on, to get out or he'll call the police, Helen calls him out on what a greedy bastard he has become and throws his money back into his face. Madea, being Madea, calls her crazy and tries to pick some of it up as she tells her not to out of principle.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Orlando.
  • Narrator: Helen who narrates as she's writing in her diary. Hence the title.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Never ever mess with Mabel Madea Simmons... or with her granddaughter.
  • Never Trust a Title: In this case, the title is accurate, but also very easily misinterpreted. The "mad black woman" it refers to is the angry Helen, not the insane gun-toting Madea so prominently featured on the poster.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Despite the title of the movie and the serious undertones of the trailer, many viewers were distracted by the large, crossdressing man played by Perry himself and forgot that the movie was a comedy-drama rather than just a comedy.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Helen even admits that if Charles wasn't such a bad husband to her, she wouldn't have found a more loving and supporting man in Orlando.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The film does a short but blatant riff on Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston after Judge Mablean Ephriam rules Helen and Madea's case:
    Judge Ephriam: Bailiff, call the next case.
    Bailiff: The State of Georgia versus Bobby Brown.
    Judge Ephriam: What is this? Repeat offender day?
    Voice of Whitney Houston: Bobby! Bobby, I love you!
    Judge Ephriam: Sit down, Miss Houston.
  • No-Respect Guy: Orlando, at first.
  • Not with Them for the Money: To prove this to Charles, Helen signed a prenup when his career was still getting off the ground. Madea doesn't hesitate to tell Helen how stupid it was. Little did Charles realize, Helen was the only person who wasn't putting up with him for a handout. When he's paralyzed and his mistress takes all his money, his so-called friends and house staff leave him to rot.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: The judge's reaction to Madea getting brought before her, which is apparently a common occurrence.
  • Rapid-Fire Typing: Done for comedic effect when Madea is tallying how much money Charles owes Helen.
  • Red Herring: While Madea has her moments, she is not the "Mad Black Woman" described in the film. That title is reserved for Helen.
  • Revenge: after Charles is shot by the gangster he was defending and is paralyzed, Helen gets revenge while taking care of him.
    • Of course, she then realized that it wasn't really that fulfilling...
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Brenda takes off with the money and kids the second she realizes that Charles is going to be disabled and she'd be expected to take care of him.
  • Sexless Marriage: Charles mentions that he and Helen haven't had sex in a long time. That was one of the red flags that Helen overlooked due to her being in denial that their marriage was coming to an end.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Helen and Orlando.
  • Take That!: A rather amusing one against Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. See No Celebrities Were Harmed above.
  • Team Mom / Team Dad: It's up to you to decide which one Madea counts as.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dealt out a number of times by Helen to a crippled Charles, while she's taking revenge on him.
  • The World Mocks Your Loss: A downplayed version occurs when Helen is dining alone in a restaurant and she sees a younger couple happily getting engaged in front of her. This drives her to tears and then promptly leaves.
  • Title Drop: Later in the movie when Helen writes an entry in her diary:
    Helen:September 19th. Dear Diary, as I sit here thinking about picking up the pieces of what used to be my life, I realized something. Every room in this house holds a painful memory for me. Even though he's suffering, something somewhere in me wants him to suffer more. A few months and a divorce can take you through just as many emotions as 18 years in a marriage. And I'm starting to feel all of them at once. But the one that is clear is rage. Signed, a Mad Black Woman.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Charles apparently thought it was a good idea to continue treating Helen like trash after she attempted to help get his affairs in order right after A: He was paralyzed and B: She's the reason he's still alive.
  • Trailers Always Lie: As you can see from the picture, most of this movie's promotional material made it look like a slapstick comedy about Madea, when in reality she's a supporting character and her antics take up a fairly small part of the film.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Charles. When Helen agrees to take care of him after he gets paralyzed, he treats her like crap. Fortunately, Helen turns the tables on him and gets her revenge.
  • Woman Scorned: Helen, of course. She even states this herself:
    Helen: I'm not bitter. I'm mad as hell.