Black folks love a good movie and over the years, we’ve had plenty that deal with all kind of Black families – from the slightly dysfunctional to the all-out crazy. (Or as Kanye would say, cray-cray.) In honor of Black History Month and with the Oscars on tap this weekend (Good luck Denzel!) we had to take another look at some of our favorite black family movies. What unites them? Strong mothers, competitive siblings, challenging relationships, family camaraderie and always humor, even through the roughest times. Here’s our list of the black movies that made us laugh…and cry.
Let’s just start with Vanessa Williams married to Cedric The Entertainer. Sounds like a stretch to us, but we let it go and enjoyed this silly comedy based on an ill-fated trip across country for one Black family. The kids were played by Solange Knowles and Bow Wow, so you knew what it was, but it had its hilarious moments.
Idris Elba, Columbus Short and Chris Brown provide very worthwhile eye candy in this film about a troubled but loving family coming together for the holidays. Loretta Devine plays the family matriarch.
Denzel Washington starred in and directed this film based on the true story of Navy man Antwone Fisher and his struggle to find and reconnect with himself and his family. Derek Luke plays Fisher, Joy Bailey is his compassionate girlfriend and Washington the Navy therapist who assists Fisher in his journey.
DOWN IN THE DELTA (1998)
Directed by Maya Angelou, “Down in the Delta” features a mother struggling with addiction who moves to Mississippi with her children only to find the Southern life confining at first. But soon the love of family helps her heal her own demons and she finds peace after years of turmoil. Alfre Woodwarad stars with Esther Rolle, Al Freeman, Jr. Loretta Devine and Wesley Snipes.
Tyler Perry’s adaptation of his own stage play starred his alter ego Ma’dea along with Lynn Whitfield, Boris Kodjoe, Blair Underwood and Keke Palmer. The story includes a troubled teenager and an equally troubled relationship but ends with a note of hope and a message about the lasting importance of family.
What funnier family has ever been created than the Klumps – all played by Eddie Murphy. In the first of two movies, Murphy is Sherman Klump, an overweight professor looking for love who takes a chemical that transforms him into a slimmer but nastier alter ego. Jada Pinkett stars as the object of Klump’s desire, though she has to get by his large, in every sense of the word, family first.
Martin Lawrence and Joy Bailey play a high-end L.A. celebrity couple that return home to Martin’s humble beginnings in the South. Cedric The Entertainer, Mike Epps and Mo’Nique play the kind of family members you hope to avoid at family gatherings; James Earl Jones and “The Color Purple’s” Margaret Avery are the parents of this crazy clan.
MAMA FLORA’S FAMILY -TV MOVIE- (1998)
Although it was a TV movie, “Mama Flora’s Family” is the memorable story of the triumphs and struggles of a black family set against the backdrop of several decades of American history that resonated with audiences. Cicely Tyson, Blair Underwood, Queen Latifah and Mario Van Peebles star as multiple generations of one family.
Bachelor Nick soon finds out that to win the heart of Suzanne, he must first win over her kids and it’s not an easy task. When Nick offers to drive the kids cross-country to see their mom during a holiday, predictable disaster and comedy are on the menu. Ice Cube and Nia Long star.
SOUL FOOD (1997)
This popular drama is about three Chicago sisters and their families who carry on their mother’s tradition of Sunday soul food dinners even after she dies. The movie inspired the long-running Showtime TV series of the same name, one of the only successful Black family dramas ever aired on television. Vanessa L. Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long and Mekhi Phifer star.