Tyler Perry is Back With Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor
Tyler Perry has had almost as much success inciting vitriol as he’s had making millions—so it can be easy to forget that there’s a reason his films are wildly successful. Yes, they play to an audience that has been greatly underserved by Hollywood, and each is stamped by formulas that effectively support a larger moralistic worldview. But those formulas, sadly, lack insight or originality. Temptation is a conservative morality tale in which young married therapist Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) begins to fall for a billionaire, Harley (Robbie Jones), who may be investing in her matchmaking company. The film exists in a universe where workplace sexual harassment is the unquestioned norm, conservative ideas about women’s social roles are exalted above women’s professional ambitions, and Kim Kardashian is a reasonable choice for a role involving acting. The narrative hinges on an unearned turn: Judith’s billionaire-affair goes from one in which she’s freed from her ungrateful, inconsiderate husband to one in which she and Harley turn into coked-addled deviants overnight. Perry has some worthwhile filmic models—Temptation gestures at Woody Allen in its setup, and Douglas Sirk in its melodrama—but he isn’t even in the same star cluster as those greats. He manages a few touching moments, notably a scene in which Judith’s husband (Lance Gross) does a naked-cowboy rendition of “Try a Little Tenderness,” but Temptation’s refusal to find nuance in its didactic worldview ensures that the film will ultimately only succeed for audiences already in agreement with it.
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