Tyler Perry is one prolific filmmaker and his films have garnered a passionate following amongst his fans. Lately, he has been branching out beyond his family dramas and Madea comedies with films such as Good Deeds and now his latest, teased in the Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor trailer. Perry’s new film lands in theaters and is his darkest yet and explores a plethora of moral issues unlike any other effort he’s undertaken.
Movie Fanatic truly appreciates the auteur’s work, yet like a certain someone in an iconic tale -- Perry may have bitten off more of the forbidden fruit than he thought when he started this project. There are so many balls in the air in Temptation that it’s hard to know where to focus one’s energies.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell is Judith, a woman who has been happily in love with Brice (Lance Gross) since the two were children in the rural south. Judith has always been the apple of the eye of her mother, a preacher named Sarah (Ella Joyce). Given her upbringing, she has a solid moral base and she shares that with Brice.
When the two are old enough, they get married and when their education is finished, they head to Washington, D.C. to start a life together.
Things are going well… almost. Judith is not satisfied when our story picks up several years later. She is working for Janice (Vanessa Williams), a “millionaire matchmaker,” as a counselor where her true dreams are having her own marriage counseling practice. It is there we also meet the Kim Kardashian character. Let's just say that the question of whether the celebrity gossip maven can act is answered within 60 seconds of her cold absence of any feeling performance.
Judith's husband is affectionate, but has begun to take her for granted. Then an internet billionaire, Harley (Robbie Jones), walks into Janice’s offices. It would make sense he was looking to be matched, but he’s there seeking to invest in Janice’s business and zeroes in on Judith to be his personal advisor. It is so clear his intentions for Judith, it’s like it’s telegraphed from across the world. Only, she doesn’t see it. See, our problems with the film have begun.
There’s predictable film story layout and there’s what we find in Temptation. Our Temptation review also has issues with the fact that this character of Judith that we’ve established as so morally sound, would throw her life away by getting sucked into a sexual (and drug-filled) relationship with a mysterious billionaire within a mere days. I just didn’t buy it, and unfortunately if that is not believable, the entire film falls apart.
The cast is solid including supporting players Brandy Norwood and Renee Taylor. But, there are so many twists and turns in the story that dozens in our screening broke out in fits of laughter. That is clearly not a good sign for a film whose goal was to challenge, send a morality message and lead us to believe that one bad choice can ruin our lives. Unfortunately, there are so many bad choices within the film itself, none of it can be taken seriously.
We have not given up on Tyler Perry, in fact just the opposite. This is a man who will still give us decades of solid and emotionally provocative work... and we look forward to his next effort.