Tyler Perry's Temptation Review: A Mess of a Morality Tale

by at .  Updated at . Comments

Oh, Tyler Perry's Temptation, where to begin? You were written in a single night, right? On Red Bulls and Adderall? Or during a fever dream with not just a Telenovela, but the worst Telenovela - whatever that would be - playing on double-speed in the background?

Please tell me I’m getting close.

Temptation Poster

That Temptation was made is confounding. That it was made by one of the most successful and recognizable filmmakers alive is terrifying.

Written with the sophistication of a Madlib, with the subtlety of a child throwing a tantrum at a strip-mall A&W ("but I want a large!!!"), Temptation is your least favorite Media Studies classmate’s student film at best.

Tyler Perry’s actors seem to be playing to an imaginary live audience. They face out toward the fourth wall, they speak broad, expository dialogue, and every giggle, scoff, and sigh is played grandly to the back of the theater.

Temptation tells the story of Judith, played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell, an aspiring marriage counselor, married to her childhood sweetheart Brice (Lance Gross), but stuck working for high-powered match maker Janice (Vanessa Williams with an insane French accent).

Vanessa Williams Kim Kardashian in Temptation

Brice, for his part, is an extremely handsome and caring man whose big flaw is that his “dream job,” as the voiceover tells it, is to work at a pharmacy (that’s it Brice, aim for the stars). Which is why the couple moves from the rural South to DC, the pharmacy capital of the world!

When a smashingly handsome social media mogul with a jaw-line that could cut a better film named Harley (Robbie Jones) comes to Janice for help developing a matchmaking app, he is instantly taken with Judith.

The next hour of the film is spent with charming-if-blunt Harley courting the hopelessly dull and even more hopelessly disinterested Judith, despite knowing very well that she’s married. So we’re not rooting for him. Check.

That’s when the bluntest bit of filmmaking you may ever see is levied: a series of direct comparisons between the two men. We find out that Judith wants a protector, and shortly thereafter we see Brice acting completely rationally by simply ignoring a group of guys that cat-calls Judith. But Judith doesn’t like that, because that’s not protector-y.

But then, while on a jog with Harley, she accidentally collides with a cyclist. So Harley picks the cyclist up by the scruff, screams at him, and threatens to kick his cyclin' ass. Yay! Protector!

But despite his apparent insane temper, Harley is essentially a nice guy, until he just isn’t anymore. After he finally seduces by taking her on a private plane and talking a lot about his ex-girlfriend, the first of three switches flips: Harley, the charming guy with the jaw and the millions of dollars, is now, ever so suddenly, a crazed maniac with a harem of hoes and a severe drug addiction.

Whoops!

Temptation Jurnee Smollett-Bell Robbie Jones Still

Switch #2 flips shortly thereafter, and with no real sense of time, motivation, consequence, character, or any of that boring filmy crap: Judith sucks too! Now she’s a crazed maniac with a severe drug addiction—and she’s one of the hoes! So we’re 2/3 of the way through the film, and we learn we’re not rooting for her. Check.

Okay, so we must be rooting for Brice, right? Handsome guy. His dream totally sucks but that’s okay, at least he’s nice. And he loves his wife. Well, enter switch three: Brice is a royal jerk. All he wants to do now is watch football. His wife leaves at night, doesn't return until the next afternoon, and he doesn’t even notice or care.

So we’re definitely not rooting for him. Check.

If we’re not rooting for any of the three main characters, what are we rooting for? Turns out we’re rooting for a small, harmless grease fire to erupt in the lobby of the theater so they stop the film, escort everyone out, and refund us our money.

Lance Gross Brandy Norwood Temptation Still

Oh yeah, there’s also some Christian stuff, some HIV stuff, some Kim Kardashian yelling about clothes stuff, some Crazy Old White Lady stuff, some Brandy with Battered Woman Syndrome stuff, and a lot of other ridiculous stuff. And then there's the whole insane notion that Judith, the least equipped person to give anyone marriage advice, still wants to be a marriage counselor.

In the end, Temptation is a morality tale of the worst kind: One whose plot and characters are clumsily contorted to serve the moral. And worse, one whose moral is heavy-handed, affected, and insultingly simple. If you’re looking for a “don’t cheat” or “don’t do drugs” message, I’d suggest watching a 1980’s Health Class video instead of Temptation. It’ll be a lot shorter, and a lot less painful.

RATING: -0/5

Tags: , , ,
Avatar

I love TP like the rest of the black community. I'm 53 years old and black but unlike the majority on here I did not like the movie. It was so predictable. KK was horrible. What a slow waste of two hours.

Avatar

Funny how I've seen all these negative reviews especially about a film by a black director, yet Silver Linings nearly knocked me out (thank God for emails and work I did during that snore fest). This movie was riveting, beginning to end. And I'm not the only one who thought so-the entire audience was equally diverse and intrigued. I was literally on the edge of my seat and while I'll admit that Perry has had some strange flops in the past, this is not one of them. Intriguing, morally responsible, captivating, Temptations really drives home the message of all that glitters isn't nice. The way he slowly developed Harley's character was brilliant-even Judith acknowledged that he had a mean streak when she did her unbiased assessment of his personality test. We slowly see that characteristic building even as Harley maintains a certain vulnerability, and we question what's real and what's fantasy in his diatribe about his past life.
Perhaps it takes an intelligent viewer to appreciate the subtle nuances that Perry has embedded throughout this masterpiece, so I can understand if it's not for everyone. For those looking to be entertained with lessons of morality and social responsibility masterfully intertwined, this is a great film.

Avatar

Despite this negative review, I am still going to pay my money to see the movie and support Perry. It's funny how this movie which seems to have a good moral message is bashed. While rubbish like Silver Linings with all its's cussing and very vulgar language is praised. Some people in society are just morally warped.

Avatar

I disagree with this movie review. The film had several messages in which the audience could walk away feeling inspired in some way. Of course, no one is perfect, but it was more than the issue of cheating. It was also to get the attention of our youth in that the decisions/choices you make can and will change your life forever.

Avatar

I am absolutely appalled at the negative reviews I've come across this morning. The Marriage Counselor was an excellent film. The intro was great, the plot was amazing and moreover than that, it taught a very valuable lesson to many out there: Don't get caught up in an illusion. They may appear enticing, desirable and impossible to resist. However the truth is they are your worst nightmare. It is only an illusion!

Avatar

I agree to disagree. The movie served its point. It actually makes you never want to take on temptation. The end.

Avatar

I completely disagree with this movie review. I just saw this movie and I must say I really did enjoy it. It was a good movie. It had a goo story line and surprisingly Kim K. did a fairly good job acting eventhough playing the role she did wasn't much of a stress from who she really is. But outside of that it was definitely worth the money to me. This movie review was entirely too harsh and completely just undermines the message and the plot o the story. This movie reflect real life and it really good....at least in my opinion. Sidenote: Any movie that Tyler Perry writes/directs/produces will give some sort of spotlight to religion (Christianity).

Avatar

Can someone please refund me my $10 I just spent on this made for TV Lifetime movie that somehow made it to the big screen. I am a fan of Tyler Perry but this movie is pure garbage. I could of came up with this script out of my butt.

Avatar

In all seriousness Tyler Perry makes horrible movies. I don't care how much $ they make...he writes like he took a screenwriting class at a junior college. Predictable and cliche.

Avatar

The movie was an amazing depiction that will hopefully contribute to the eye opener our society needs to decrease the rising divorce rate. Despite thoughts of Kim Kardashian I must say Tyler Perry brought out the best in her because her acting was excellent! The best movie I have ever seen because it serves as a benefit and has value to those who take heed!