A Jazzman’s Blues Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying About Tyler Perry’s Netflix Drama

Joshua Boone and Solea Pfeiffer in A Jazzman's Blues.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Tyler Perry is an accomplished filmmaker, with dozens of acting, writing, directing and producing credits to his name. But when his latest project, A Jazzman’s Blues is released to Netflix subscribers later this month, audiences will see the first screenplay Perry ever wrote. The film, which Perry had been waiting 27 years to make, premiered September 11 at Toronto International Film Festival, and the reviews are in to tell us more about this tale of forbidden love.

A Jazzman’s Blues is set in Georgia in the 1930s and '40s and stars Joshua Boone and Solea Pfeiffer as Bayou and Leanne, lovers forced apart by class and race. A Madea movie this is not, so let’s see what the critics are saying. Owen Gleiberman of Variety says the movie is filled with melodrama, but in a way that somehow feels very new, and it will make viewers want Tyler Perry to do dramas more often. The critic says: 

A Jazzman’s Blues knowingly interweaves tropes of Black experience with a kind of studio-system finesse. The music sequences, which range from rowdy juke-joint blues jams to the beautifully staged club gigs (with twirling choreography by Debbie Allen), are exhilarating. They give the film a soulful pulse and make you wish that Perry would direct an all-out musical.

Robert Daniels of The Playlist grades the movie a B- and. while the critic is not a fan of the filmmaker behind the movie, he finds it full of emotion. The review also praises the “open” performances of Joshua Boone and Solea Pfeiffer: 

A Jazzman’s Blues is a passion project that climbs close to the edge of becoming self-indulgent fodder. The film is never as deep as it thinks it is. Nor is it terribly original either. But for Perry, this is a massive change. And while you shouldn’t praise a director for merely trying. Perry does more than try with A Jazzman’s Blues. He finally shows that he’s not a one-trick pony.

THR’s Lovia Gyarkye calls the film “a serviceable melodrama” that employs a number of Black and biblical stereotypes, which Tyler Perry assembles into a relatively familiar story. From the review:

A Jazzman’s Blues is overindulgent, a narrative feast of twists and turns. The formidable work of the cast paces us, helping viewers digest the plot and saving Perry’s screenplay from the collateral damage of its broad scope. The film is not a revelation, nor does it stray too far from Perry’s other work, but it suggests the director may be ready to move out of his comfort zone.

Sarah Milner of SlashFilm rates the movie 5.5 out of 10, saying that it's overly sentimental and overly complicated; tells us what the characters are feeling, rather than showing us; and the romance scenes are cringey rather than sexy. However, Milner notes that Tyler Perry’s decision to lean into the music is a good one: 

Perry — who wrote and directed — thankfully leans into the film's strength: the music. With songs by Terence Blanchard, music by composer Aaron Zigman, and choreography by industry legend Debbie Allen, there's a high level of talent on display in the scenes set in juke joints and concert halls. I personally found it very difficult to sit still during these scenes. There's just such a good groove that it's impossible not to be drawn in. This is one of those movies where the soundtrack is far and wide the best element.

Katie Rife of IndieWire's Katie Rife gives the movie a grade of C+ and, like many of the critics, praises the musical aspects of the movie. The critic also agrees with her counterparts that it is melodramatic and doesn't have much mystery, saying: 

It’s apparent that Perry worked in theater when he wrote this script. At its core, A Jazzman’s Blues is a soap opera full of shocking secrets, emotional confrontations, and one exceedingly satisfying slap. The mystery aspects are thin; anyone with passing knowledge of Black American history can infer early on who was killed, why, and by whom.

The critics definitely have their likes and dislikes when it comes to A Jazzman’s Blues but, even though the script was written over two decades ago, they all seem to still recognize Tyler Perry’s work. The music seems like the point everyone can agree on, and if you want to check this movie out, you can do so on Friday, September 23. You can also check out CinemaBlend's 2022 Netflix movie schedule to see what other films are coming soon to the streaming service, and start planning your next trip to the theater with our 2022 movie release schedule

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.