Movie Review - Tyler Perry's Temptation

Robbie Jones (left) and Jurnee Smollett-Bell
in Tyler Perry's "Temptation"
Much like the framing device in Life of Pi (2012), the bookends of Tyler Perry's 13th feature as director don't work. Perry has an actress here that he didn't need. He also has one of the main actors in makeup who didn't need it mainly because the makeup only serves to make him look bad.

Kim Kardashian should have been cut from this movie. She adds absolutely nothing. She only becomes an annoyance. Her lines are meant to be comedic, but she doesn't sell them at all. Plus, her character of Ava gives the protagonist advice on how to keep a man. Given Kardashian's infamous 72-day marriage to Kris Humphries, nothing she said on the topic had any weight or could be taken with any kind of seriousness. I suppose you could look at her role ironically and enjoy it that way.

Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Eve's Bayou and The Great Debaters) stars as Judith, a therapist for a matchmaking company. An Internet millionaire named Harley, played by Robbie Jones (One Tree Hill and Necessary Roughness) comes to her company wanting to invest. Harley makes it clear that he not only wants into the company. He also wants into Judith, but for no substantial reason. Judith, however, is married to Brice, played by Lance Gross (Meet the Browns and House of Payne).

Lance Gross
It's not a spoiler to say this movie is a question of whether or not Judith will cheat on Brice with Harley. Yet, Brice is a better-looking guy than Harley, despite Brice wearing glasses in that lame, Clark Kent-style, dress down. It might have worked better if Brice were played by Deon Richmond, but Gross is too gorgeous to be ignored.

When really pressed, Judith seems to choose one over the other due to money and sexual style. It's actually rather shallow on her part, which is odd given the educational pedigree she supposedly has. Judith complains that Brice forgets her birthday, but for her to consider jumping into bed with another guy just for that is rather insulting to women who actually are having real marital troubles.

Perry's best film has to be Why Did I Get Married? (2007) and in that story he's able to lay out why the married couples are having trouble but why they still love each other. Here, Perry doesn't do that. They claim to have been married for six years, so we accept that they do love each other, but if Perry is going to play with adultery as the thrust of events, he needs to make sure the reasoning is solid. He was able to do it in Good Deeds (2012) but shoots a total air ball here.

Perry has always had a very good sense of humor. He does create funny moments here and there. Without his most popular character Madea, he has to instead inject Madea substitutes into the story, which works better because the substitutes aren't as outrageous as Madea. They're easy to spot though. The Madea substitutes are really any women of authority or in some cases seniority who deliver brutally honest, faith-based and sassy one-liners.

Oscar nominee Renee Taylor is one, as the homophobic pharmacist. Emmy nominee Vanessa Williams is another, as the French-accented boss. Rounding out the substitutes is Ella Joyce, as the Bible-thumping mother. As the Madea substitutes, they're pure comic relief. They're not integral to the plot at all.

Also not integral to the plot is the character of Melinda, played by R&B singer Brandy Norwood. Perry gives her a ridiculous Sleeping With the Enemy (1991) meets Life Support (2007) storyline that served no purpose but to demonize a character who Perry can't stop but overtly calling a demon.

Melinda's character complains because her marriage ended due to her spouse changing, whereas Judith thinks about ending her marriage due to her spouse not changing. It's kind of a contradiction if anyone is looking for any kind of message about marriage. Of course, Melinda's marriage is an extreme case. Judith's marriage seems like more the norm, but because Perry doesn't give enough logical reason as to why Judith and Brice's relationship is shaky or easily tempted, then it's hard to buy any thing else that follows.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for some violence, sexuality and drug content.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 51 mins.


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