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The Family That Preys (2008)
Very entertaining.. Tyler Perry has matured as a producer..
"The Family That Preys" is a story that revolves around friendship and deception, within two families: The Evans' and Cartwright's. The Evans family is headed by hardworking middle classed Alice Pratt Evans (Alfre Woodard) who is the mother of two daughters, Andrea (Sanaa Lathan) and Pam (Taraji P. Henson). Andrea is educated and has just earned a Masters degree in finance, while Pam ops not to go to college and takes up a job working in the family diner with Alice instead. The Cartwright family is very wealthy and is headed by strong willed, business savvy, Charlotte Cartwright (Kathy Bates). Charlotte is the mother of a spoiled greedy son, William (Cole Hauser). Alice and Charlotte, although coming from different social backgrounds, develop a long friendship which lasts for over 30 years.
The film opens to a wedding scene in which Andrea is marrying a middle classed uneducated construction worker named Chris (Rockmond Dunbar). During the wedding reception, William approaches the newlywed couple and offers them both jobs in the thriving Cartwright family business. Both Andrea and Chris accept. The credits roll and the story picks up four years later. Andrea's husband Chris, along with Pam's husband Ben (Tyler Perry), have both been hired as Cartwright construction workers while Andrea has been hired in the corporate aspect of the business as one of the company's financial advisers. Within those four years, Andrea has turned into heartless bitch who feels that her entire family, including her husband, is beneath her because Andrea is making big bucks with the Cartwright Company. Chris has a dream of starting his own construction company and Andrea refuses to support Chris' dreams. Charlotte and Alice go on a cross country road trip in which Charlotte reveals to Alice that she has developed Alzheimer's disease. Because of Charlotte's sudden illness, William begins plotting to steal the family business from underneath his mother's nose. There are so many plot lines going on and too little time so most of the characters are underdeveloped, as Ben and Pam, as a couple rarely get any screen time at all. There is a lot going on in "The Family That Preys", but the plot twist that changes the film's entire direction happens when Chris goes to the bank to apply for a business loan and while he's there Chris is informed that he and his wife, Andrea, have more than one account at the bank and one of the accounts holds almost $300,000. Andrea has been hiding the money, and Chris has no clue where Andrea got it.
As the story unfolds, secrets are exposed, deception becomes the name of the game, and Andrea and William seem to be the ones from which all deception flows. I recall watching the film and shaking my head at how evil the two of them were. I'd rather not spoil the ending so I'll just say that the ending is very satisfying, yet questionable. I left the theatre amazed at how much Tyler Perry as matured as a producer. This film actually holds substance, teaches lessons, and has a very serious tone. And the fact that both families are matriarchal was very impressive. Rarely are women given any control or power in Perry's films, but with this film, he definitely made up for his chauvinistic beginnings. "The Family That Preys" gets two thumbs up from me. I enjoyed it.