Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

Starring: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross, Vanessa Williams
Directed by: Tyler Perry
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 111 minutes

Oh, Mr. Perry, this movie has caused me a lot of grief these past few days. I've been going back and forth on whether to do a long review or a short, quick one. Well, I actually did a short review, but then went back to square one to a longer one thanks to an inspiring Tumblr post.

Judith works as a therapist at a matchmaking agency and is married to her childhood sweetheart and pharmacist Brice. They have a loving relationship and share strong Christian values, but over the years Judith feels under appreciated and sometimes neglected by her husband. Harley, a wealthy internet entrepreneur, is interested in investing in the matchmaking agency and Judith is put in charge to handle the details. As the two work together, Harley expresses his interest in Judith and tries to convince her that he could provide everything that Brice is not giving her lately.

Before I digging into this movie, there's two things I want to state. First, I actually wanted to see this when it came to theaters, but it never worked out. Second, my relationship with Tyler Perry's creations, whether it be his TV shows or his movies (I don't have many problems with his stage plays), I've been a little frustrated. Based on the trailer, it actually seemed like a step up from his previous movies and a break out of the usual mold for him. It actually appeared promising for Mr. Perry and I felt optimistic going into it. After watching it at home, my mother told me she enjoyed it, but a lot of reviewers of imdb seemed to tear it apart as a garbage movie. I must admit that this movie isn't terrible, but...on the other hand, it wasn't as great as my mother claimed it to be either.

I haven't watched the stage play this movie is inspired or based on yet. I have a lot of stage plays to catch up on still. Infidelity stories have a formula to them, so a lot of elements seem cliche. With Tyler Perry, there's also a formula to his creations. There's eye candy, abusive relationships, going against racial stereotypes while simultaneously playing to them, drugs, and some sort of moral, usually Christian, message at the end. I will give him points for trying to do something more serious and I was happy that there was an actual consequence for Judith's actions, although the resolution is very questionable in more ways than one. It was nice to see a more serious side of Tyler Perry through his film.

Unfortunately, his efforts lacked in places and were sloppy in other spots. These flaws dull down all the positives of this movie. In fact, it mostly outweighs it. The story is quite simple, but the subplot was unnecessary, which is whatever Melinda was going through or the small emphasis on Judith needing a makeover. I was happy there was no makeover montage with Judith and Ava. Also, I completely forgot that the movie's story was being told by someone else until the end which seemed silly and it could've been completely omitted. The biggest problem was the script, for me. The characters either fell in the category of idiotic or pointless and the pointless characters helped bridge the gap of the idiocy. Let me delve a little deeper in the character issues I have and I'll try to leave the spoilers out, if that's even possible to do as most of the actions are predictable.

I'll begin with the supporting cast. I know Kim Kardashian doesn't have much support, especially as an "actress", but she really didn't contribute or retract anything from the movie. So, Ava falls into the pointless batch and she doesn't bridge much together either. Janice has little purpose as well and only exists to add extra consequence to Judith. Melinda's backstory was very vague and doesn't offer much for the audience to sympathize or care about. She's also the smartest person in the whole movie, even though she seems quite pointless as well when you think about it. Sarah, Judith's mother, also doesn't add much to the story other than shoving in a Christian message and slightly bridging a gap a bit awkwardly of the idiocy with the main cast. Now for the male leads, Brice and Harley. Brice is a character that at first we're suppose to not like much, but like more than Harley. Unfortunately, he's part of the idiot box and has to be guided along to figure out that Judith is interested in Harley in a more intimate way. His neglectful actions are realistic, but as the movie progresses, it becomes less realistic and you understand why Judith chose Harley over him. Harley is obviously the antagonist of this movie, but his abusive ways seem over the top or unnatural in places. Apparently, he does drugs as well, but it is vaguely mentioned verbally and through his actions. Either Perry just wanted to stick with his usual formula or he doesn't understand drug physics. Lastly, there's Judith. Judith is a very fickle character...a very frustrating, fickle character. She'll chase after Harley, then gets pissed off at him. Her acting isn't that bad, but her emotional range just seems very sudden in certain situations.

Other little things I would like to add about this movie is that I wish Tyler Perry took more of a risk with the subject matter. Appearance wise, it is a lot darker and I expected something R rated, but it wasn't. If he pushed himself for an R, I think things could've been expanded more. There's also a small continuity error at the end of the movie as well. Lastly, that Tumblr post. I was so happy that someone else noticed that scene. Just everything about that scene and Judith's reaction afterward seemed very off. The whole situation from that scene could've been executed better.

In the end, Tyler Perry tried his best, but fell short in too many areas to make this a good movie. I am a bit disappointed, but I think Perry needs to take a break from the big screen and gather his writing and directing skills together. The acting was decent and the story had promise of something a little different from Perry, but the various flaws brought the movie down some points. This isn't the best movie out of Perry's collection that doesn't involve Madea, but I will defend it to an extent that it isn't the worse movie I've seen either.

Rating: 2/5

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