If you ask the average person what the funniest film of 2009 was, it’s more than likely they’ll say The Hangover. Not me. No, sir. My vote definitely goes to the overwrought, slapstick melodrama Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire.
Set in 1987, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire is the story of Claireece Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a morbidly obese, illiterate, pregnant 16-year-old middle school student who lives with her abusive mother, Mary (Mo’Nique), in the slums of Harlem. Probably due to the abuse, Claireece, or “Precious” as she’s known by, is a complete fucking dolt. Well, she’s pretty good at math because she has a crush on her math teacher, and she wants to be a skinny white lady and live with him in West Chester. Shortly after we learn this, Precious is kicked out of school for being pregnant. Oh, and get this: the baby is her father’s!
Yup, Precious is on her second pregnancy by her father. Can you blame the guy for raping his own daughter? Why would he fuck that horrid beast of a girlfriend, Mary, when he can rape his own 500 pound, idiot daughter who looks like Biggie Smalls, only not as hot. As she’s being raped by her father, we see that it makes her feel like a movie star, walking the red carpet! She dreams of the fame and love from her fans. It’s genuinely touching. Their first child together is a sweet little girl named Mongo, who was born on the kitchen floor as Precious was kicked by her mother. You see, she has Downs syndrome, so they affectionately named her Mongoloid. The birthname is Mongoloid. “Mongo” is just a cute little nickname they gave her. MONGO. Her fucking name is MONGO. Little Mongoloid lives with Precious’ grandmother, though Mary forces the family to pretend she lives with her and Precious so she can receive extra money from the government.
So, after getting kicked out of her middle school, Precious begins attending an alternative school to get her “readin’ up.” In a classroom full of extras from “A Different World,” her new teacher, Blu Rain (what the fuck…) takes on the, uh, enormous task of teaching Precious how to read and write. This goes well, culminating into Precious learning the power of writing when she opens up to Ms. Blu about her history of abuse and incest. Your mother beats you and calls you names? Your father rapes you and gives you mongoloids? Write about it! WRITE.
So Precious is pregnant and poor and is reduced to stealing buckets of fried chicken which she eats all over town as she daydreams about a kid from the neighborhood who enjoys making fun of her and pushing her onto her face in the street. Ahhh, teenage fantasy. This young man in particular makes Precious feel like a best selling pop star, adored by the world. This scene calls back to Sidibe’s brief music career where she sang the chorus to Coolio’s smash hit, “Gangsta’s Paradise.”
It isn’t long before Precious gives birth to her new brotherson, which gets a kinder name in Abdul. He is brought home from the hospital to meet his new grandma, Mary, just to be literally THROWN aside in order for Mary to hit Precious in the back of the head with a vase or something similar made of glass.
Seriously, the scenes throughout the film of Mary and Precious at home are comic GOLD. It’s raucous slapstick humor as if the Three Stooges have come to the ghetto. At any given time, Precious is having random household items thrown at her face. Some she humorously dodges, but others hilariously strike her in the back of the head! Mo’Nique and Sidibe both have a natural gift for physical comedy, and it all shows in these riotous scenes of Looney Tunes violence. One of the bigger laughs comes from Precious tumbling down stairs face first with baby Abdul, while being chased by Mary, armed with a television set which she hurls down at them both. Throughout the film, Sidibe is constantly falling on her face, demonstrating a true commitment to her vaudevillian trade.
Fuck the rest of this shit. Precious goes on to live with lesbians, then gets more help, and then gets more help, and then is on her own. OK, sure. The power of writing. Let’s talk more about her mother, Mary.
Mo’Nique gets all the best lines in this. Aside from the physical humor involved in Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, it is a witty satire of inner-city life. When speaking of her feelings towards her granddaughter, Mongo, Mary affectionately says, “You dun fucked around and fucked my mutha fuckin man. And had two mutha fuckin children, and one of em’s a goddamn animal, running around looking crazy as a mutha fucker.”
When speaking with social worker, Miss Mariah, about Precious being raped and molested by her father it went down like this:
Mary: …and we would…we would start ‘doin’ it’…and he reached over…he touched my baby. And I axed him, I said, ‘Carl, what are you doing?’ And he told me to shut– to shut my fat ass up. And it’s good for her.
Miss Mariah: And what did you do, then?
Mary: I shut my fat ass up.
Mary is a sympathetic character. She only hates her daughter, Precious, because she stole her man. Who can blame the woman? Father or not, that was Mary’s mutha fuckin’ man. Who gon’ love her at night? Mary blames all of her problems on the fact that her boyfriend was happier raping his own daughter than fucking his woman. The real question here is: Can Precious forgive her mother and continue living with her so that Mary can keep receiving welfare? This is largest issue brought up in the film, and it’s a valid one indeed. Welfare is important, and who the fuck is Precious to deny her motha fuckin mother her motha fuckin welfare? It’s a moral motha fuckin dilemma.
And there is one final punchline to leave us all in stitches: EVERYONE HAS AIDS.
Oh, Sapphire! Who knew you were such a sharp-witted comedienne? Your love for melodrama and blue humor meld so well in this divine work of trash. You would make John Waters proud.