Melodrama Hampers Anything Positive about Temptation
- Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2013 3 Mar
DVD Release Date: July 9, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: March 29, 2013
Rating: PG-13 (some violence, sexuality and drug content)
Genre: Drama/Cautionary Tale
Run Time: 111 min.
Director: Tyler Perry
Cast: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Williams, Robbie Jones, Brandy Norwood, Ella Joyce
Tucked beneath all the melodrama - and trust me, Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor could give any Lifetime production a major run for its money - there is a positive takeaway about how happy, healthy marriages don’t happen by accident.
Unfortunately, anyone who’s looking for guidance on how to love your spouse well or the secrets to making your relationship go the distance won’t find much insight in Temptation. With dull, one-dimensional caricatures standing in for real characters and questionable theology where legalism (not a genuine relationship with Jesus) takes center stage, it’s also a film so poorly plotted that it makes anything featuring Perry’s obnoxious Madea seem downright genius in comparison. And considering Madea wore out her welcome, oh, about five movies ago, that’s saying something.
The trouble with Temptation is there’s little depth in what’s supposed to be a cautionary tale about infidelity. Considering that Judith (TV actree Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Brice (“House of Payne” star Lance Gross) were childhood friends who met and married very young, it’s not surprising they’d have problems. And after six years of wedded bliss, the union’s cracks are beginning to show. For the second year in a row, Brice forgets his wife’s birthday, and Judith is working too late these days to fulfill her “wifely duties,” which apparently involve home-cooked meals and regular sex.
Things don’t really get ugly, though, until Judith’s very strict Christian mama (Ella Joyce, Our Family Wedding) shows up for a visit. Not surprisingly, Judith gets mad when Brice spills the beans that she’s not going to church or cooking for him anymore. But before they have an opportunity to talk through what’s been wrong in their relationship, the writing is pretty much already on the wall when Judith meets Harley (TV actor Robbie Jones), a potential new client at work.
Harley is everything that Brice isn’t these days—the guy who shows up with flowers, flatters her constantly and whisks her off in a private jet for a luxury vacay—so Judith doesn’t play hard to get for long. Even those first pangs of guilt disappear fairly quickly when Brice is (gasp!) watching football and not paying attention to her.
Not surprisingly, the storyline that wasn’t too solid to begin with goes seriously downhill in a hurry. In what won’t shock anyone who’s ever seen a movie, it turns out that Harley is hardly what he seems. What does surprise is the lack of nuance in any of the characters Perry writes here. Since this isn’t supposed to be a soap opera, a few shades of gray would’ve helped his cause tremendously, especially with the requisite “big twist” that’s nothing short of insulting to the viewer.
If Perry was merely hoping to scare people into fidelity like, say, a less startling version of Fatal Attraction, then mission accomplished. As far as the complexities of marital relationships are concerned, however, Temptation is as inconsequential as reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s much-ballyhooed cameo.
- Violence: A woman is shown in her badly beaten state. An elderly woman is purposely shoved and hurt by a man who couldn’t care less. A fight sends two men through a window’s glass.
- Language/Profanity: A couple of exclamations of God’s name. Bas----, as-, bit--, he-- and da—are also used on occasion.
- Sex/Nudity: A married woman sleeps with someone who’s not her husband on several occasions. Most of the sex is shown off-camera, although things get pretty heated, especially in a hot tub scene, in a hurry. Some discussion of what turns people on and what is—and isn’t—appropriate in lovemaking.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking and drunkenness depicted. Recreational drug use is also shown.
- Faith/Religion: Faith, prayer and biblical principles play a strong supporting role. Judith grew up in a very strict, somewhat sheltered Christian family where church attendance was mandatory every day of the week—and twice on Sundays. Judith was also adamant about not having sex before marriage, but it’s clear she resents how she was brought up. Judith's mom asks why she doesn’t pray or attend church any more. Judith’s mom refers to Harley as the “devil.” A prayer group is in session when Judith doesn’t come home from Harley’s home.
Christa Banister is an author and full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
Publication date: March 29, 2013