Tiffany Haddish has understandably been acting like a kid in the comic candy shop since finally breaking out in “Girls Trip” last year.
She’s taken on a TV series, which she’s complained about signing for before her quote went up.She took the co-star role in a low quality but sure-fire hit Kevin Hart comedy. And she took a flyer on the indie-ish satire “The Oath,” with Ike Barenholtz.
She’s just announced a short but certain-to-be-lucrative stand up tour, where she can do her “Saturday Night Live” and talk show guest monologue about the hard road she had to travel to get here.
But one thing she shouldn’t have done was get into the Tyler Perry business. Whatever his entrepreneureal skills as a producer and brand, Perry’s day of having anything funny to say in a screenplay is long past. The proof is in “Nobody’s Fool,” the unamusing mess he ostensibly cooked up for Haddish, a movie in which she’s a has-to-try-way-too-hard supporting player to prop up another lame, misshapen Perry placeholder — a movie he figures black folks will go to simply because it has his name on it.
It’s a meandering, clumsy and inept attempt at making an R-rated raunchy comedy from a guy most at home with sentimental PG-13 sermons delivered by himself in drag.
There’s barely a laugh in it. And Haddish does lasting damage to her brand and suggests “time’s up” on her 15 minutes as she mugs, vamps, overplays and over-reaches in a vain attempt to give what she HAD to see was “not funny on the page” a laugh or two.
It’s really a Tika Sumpter vehicle, moving her from “Ride Along” support to the lead. She’s Danica, a high-powered Atlanta advertising exec whose boss jilted by her pretty young thing fiance, and now carrying on a long-distance online romance with Charlie, an oil rig worker who fills most of the boxes on her “list” of what her ideal mate would be.
That handsome hunk who runs her favorite coffee shop, Frank (Omari Hardwick)? He’s not in her league, not on her list.
She’s got an Oprah-sized colleague/assistant/confessor, Callie (Amber Riley) who follows her professional life and love life and is full of “Girl” advice. That’s Perry’s idea of edgy, hip dialogue, Callie explaining “Girl, if you get this account” and “Girl, if you get this promotion” and “Girl, I can’t even with you” every time she hears about this Charlie guy who emails and calls, but never visits or Skypes.
Momma (Whoopi Goldberg) interrupts this reverie by sending Danica to pick up her weed-loving, trick-turning sister Tanya (Haddish) from prison, and stuff gets real and real-R rated in a heartbeat. She’s uninhibitedly sexing up some random in the back of his pickup truck in the parking lot — a loud, lewd and rough tumble. When she’s done, she climbs in Danica’s M-series BMW with “I didn’t kill him. I just choked him out a little.”
Tanya gawks at Danica’s success and affluence and begs for weed and “club” hookups. The job she’s supposed to get, the drugs she’s supposed to avoid and the AA meetings she’s supposed to attend barely cross her mind.
A painfully unfunny moment — Haddish as Tanya pretending to struggle with walking on higher than high heels for the first time in five years. A second — Tanya turning every question on her job application at Frank’s coffee shop into a lewd and crude sexual come-on.
As for Danica’s mysteriously unreal love life, Tanya’s got a prison TV room solution to the mystery — “You got ‘Catfished.'”
Perry brings in the hosts of MTV’s “Catfished” for Tanya to convince and hit on. Not funny.
He gives Oscar winner Goldberg a lot of scenes as a weed-growing little old lady and nothing the least bit amusing to say or do in them.
And he uses Sumpter and Hardwick to deliver his homily, his little sermon on “Is there no (datable) black man who hasn’t been to prison?” The object lesson being, in Perry World, that shouldn’t rule out a good man as an eligible mate.
There’s a lot of affluence, swank apartments, designer clothes and perfectly made up and groomed men and women, an aspirational trademark of Perry pictures. Haddish? She looks rough, more often than not.
Plenty of sophomoric dope jokes are another trademark, and they’re no help.
And here is poor Haddish, collecting a check, figuring out that just because a writer-director needs her a lot more than she needs him doesn’t ensure that he won’t embarrass her with a role and presentation in that role that uses up her peak earning period with every minute she is or isn’t on the screen in it.
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and language throughout, and for drug material.
Cast: Tika Sumpter, Tiffany Haddish, Whoopi Goldberg, Omari Hardwick, Miss Pyle
Credits: Written and directed by Tyler Perry. A Paramount release.
Running time: 1:50