I Can Do Bad All By Myself features R&B greats Gladys Knight and Mary J. Blige for soundtrack considerations, Taraji P. Henson for the requisite nod towards serious acting credibility and, of course, Tyler Perry for the inevitable dose of cross-dressing big-mama-styled humor and down-home folksiness.

The story works overtime on fusing these pieces together as heavy-drinking nightclub singer April (Henson) wakes up to find that her sister’s three kids need someone to take care of them after their grandmother disappears.

Madea and Joe (Perry in both roles) pop up from time to time to offer respite from the gritty reality and the loveless expressions of devotion.

In the past, I’ve praised Perry’s growth and development as a filmmaker who has gone from simply shooting his stage plays in static bursts to more fully realizing the potential of the medium of film. But now Perry needs to go back to the woodshed and learn how to tell a fluid and cohesive story without rendering the melodrama, comedy and romantic elements as separate ingredients incapable of blending into a potentially rich confection. He can lure the best and the brightest (as well as his fair share of the classics from both black film and music), so it is high time that he gives them something to sink their teeth into or else he will end up making bad movies all by himself. Grade: D