Tyler Perry shows time and time again that he really doesn’t care what people think of his movies and sitcoms. We’ve heard it all – too sanctimonious, stereotypical, preachy, too this and not enough of that. In 2009, the ultimate critic, Spike Lee, said that Perry’s films, “harken back to ‘Amos n’ Andy’.” In response, Perry said in part to Box Office Magazine, “I’m so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee. Spike can go straight to hell! You can print that.”
Well, he told Spike and that was also probably for other critics! Not too long after the war of words, “For Colored Girls” was released to scathing reviews. Unfortunately, even Perry’s longtime supporters and devotees of his popular plays turned on him. The film was skewered by critics and fans alike for a variety of reasons including bad directing, bad storyline, being too harsh on black men, being a downer, etc.
Frankly, I think the critics/fans were way too harsh. The film was based on the ultimate 1975 feminist, classic stage play by Ntozake Shange, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.” I’ve seen the play many times and even interviewed Shange and the film brought to life what she wrote about, which wasn’t all that happy and arguably uplifting.
So, what does all of this have to do with “Temptation?” Well, I’m afraid that the new offering is yet another cautionary tale – preachy, and whatever else you can throw at it and I’ll even add boring. One thing’s for sure – you’ll walk out of the movie, like my husband and I and others did Friday night, wondering WTH!
The film stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“The Great Debaters”/”Eve’s Bayou”) as a young woman married to her elementary school sweetheart, played by Perry’s go to actor Lance Gross. Both from the same small Southern town, they make a life for themselves in Washington D.C. Jurnee’s character works at a dating company that caters to rich men, while dreaming of what she really wants to do – be a marriage/family counselor. Lance’s character is the nice guy pharmacist, who runs his own quaint shop.
The marriage unravels when Jurnee’s character starts an affair with a young internet star that has an interest in investing in the dating firm. Ella Joyce plays Jurnee’s holier-than-thou minister mother, who warns her about impending trouble ahead. Vanessa Williams plays the owner of the dating firm, who also warns her. Kim Kardashian plays the annoying co-worker, who taunts Jurnee for her small-town ways. Rounding out the cast is singer/actress Brandy Norwood, who plays a young woman working in the pharmacy with something to hide.
Now, I know the film sounds promising but it’s not. With all this going on, the movie is slow and boring. Jurnee is interesting at first, but her naiveté wears thin very quickly. The very handsome Lance is always reliable, but his character could have been developed more. Vanessa Williams’s role was a waste of time. Kardashian is an awful actress. While, it was great to see Ella Joyce in action (she’s another black actress who should have many awards on her mantle) even she couldn’t save this drivel.
However, I have to say the most interesting actor in the movie was Robbie Jones, the object of Jurnee’s desire. Robbie, who’s known for his roles in TV shows such as, “Necessary Roughness” and “One Tree Hill,” was interesting, commanding, and a gem on the screen – only if he was given better material to work with.
You have to give props to Perry for sticking to his guns with his subject matter and employing many black actresses and actors, but he really needs to work on telling his cautionary tales to the last frame. Perry’s films start out fine in the beginning but somewhere down the line they go downhill for me and may others to boot. (Although, I have to admit that I really liked the first “Why Did I Get Married” and “The Family That Preys”). Maybe instead of criticizing him, Spike Lee can help a brotha out.
For more on the film, check out the official website at: http://www.temptationthemovie.com/.