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"Overwrought" is the word to describe Tyler Perry's Temptation. Between the simple conflicts, cardboard characters, and stiflingly slow dialog almost entirely erected off of carbon-copy dramas, it shows its agonizingly long roots by taking every possible scenario and stretching it to a length beyond maddening tedium. There's almost no need to even write a review on this picture, because if you're not turned off by the name "Tyler Perry," you're likely turned off by the amateur cast the film boasts, the dopey plot(s), or the presence of the always wooden, never charismatic Kim Kardashian.
Tyler Perry's films have been a roller-coaster for a non-fan like myself. I believe his pictures almost demand the audience to have ability to relate too its characters on screen, and if you don't, then you've demolished one of the crucial ways of being able to like the film as a whole. But if you even if you do have the relatable factor down, there are still a number of other characteristics of his pictures that will do the job of turning you off. The abundance of clichés, stereotypes, senseless slapstick, religious motives, and ridiculous characters is enough to warrant a walk-out.
The film stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Lance Gross as Judith and Brice, childhood sweethearts that are married in an upper-class area. She is a matchmaker, working to become a full-time marriage counselor, while he is a pharmacist and a successful one at that. After six years of marriage, Judith becomes greatly unsatisfied by the drab life she is living, and in due-time because she meets Harley (Robbie Jones), an immensely successful, social-networking pioneer who is in dire need of a woman. From first sight, Judith is mesmerized by his confidence, money, and ability to talk a woman up as big as the house he lives in. We see where this is going, but Judith, who appears very bright and focused - with a mind similar to Kimberly Elise's character in Diary of a Mad Black Woman - doesn't. Soon, they are sneaking around, having sexual fun together, while she is being showered with gifts, all while trying to remain indiscreet to Brice.
This is the immediate problem of Tyler Perry's Temptation; there are no likable characters (except Brice), no characters with any intelligent judgment, and no characters that extend themselves past formulaic and dull. Take Judith for example, who we are allegedly supposed to sympathize with, even during the instances when she is cheating. We're just supposed to think, "well, it's justifiable since she's upset and Brice doesn't stand up for her as a man should." There's no justification for cheating, but the film makes it out to be up until things go really, really wrong.
It's, too, relevant that the film loves making ordeals out of petty non-issues such as Brice not standing up for Judith when she is cat-called by a group of thugs on their night out. Judith proceeds to go to bed angry and embarrassed by her husband's lack of gall to defend her or even initiate something. A scene not long after shows Harley almost beating a cyclist to a pulp after running into Judith when she was clearly at fault. Is he how men should behave? The film tries to show us that, even though his actions are grossly immature compared to Brice's, he's better because he at least tries.
Tyler Perry's Temptation fails in large part, however, because of its writing. It is an early candidate for the worst written film of the year. It runs on the fuel of inane dialog, corny lines, and senseless drama. Take for example the scene when Harley and Judith are on his private plane, and Harley questions what Judith "dreams about." When she responds, she ricochets the question off of him, to which he replies, "of you?" in a delivery that is akin to primetime soap operas. I can't remember cringing harder to a line of dialog. Then there's a scene where Judith is found battered in a bathtub. When Brice asks her, "where does it hurt?" she replies, "here," while placing her hand on his heart. To see the audience eat scenes up like this makes me deeply, deeply scared to think they have romantic expectations probably not alien to the kind in this film.
The leads aren't dreadful here, as Smollett-Bell and Gross are the kind of actors you crave to watch in better material, but the presence of reality-TV star Kim Kardashian in a film is about as off-putting and as tasteless as the persona she gives on that godforsaken program of her's. Why must Kardashian inhabit a secondary role in this film, let alone a role at all? Why not find a bodacious woman with huge breasts, a huge buttocks, and wildly unrealistic curves with no celebrity appeal for half the price? Perry's name alone is big enough to sell the most lurid screenplay/movie, so why work a role for her? It doesn't matter, though; I'm wasting words. She's about as unappealing and cloying as a secondary character played by an unnecessary celebrity can get. It will take a performance of a true despicable nature to dethrone her from a "Worst New Actress" award at the forthcoming Razzies.
Tyler Perry's Temptation is a sermon that will effectively preach to the choir that has graciously accepted every film he has released since Diary of a Mad Black Woman back in 2005. However, it has become clear now that public success is all that matters to Perry. He no longer seems to have ambition to make films that cater to a denominator other than the lowest or the most demanding. He attempts to get by on melodramatic clichés, laughable dialog, moral preachiness, inclusions of a sappy Christian agenda, and frustratingly inert plotpoints. I wish him well, and hope one day I can recommend a movie by him. I respect him as a self-made filmmaker, but that's about it, I'm afraid.
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