Susan Granger’s review of “Tyler Perry’s Temptation” (Lionsgate)
Madea’s fun has long gone and it’s all moralistic preaching in Tyler Perry’s disappointing new picture.
Marriage counselor Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) works for an upscale Washington, D.C. millionaire match-making service. She’s a dutiful Christian woman married to Brice (Lance Gross), who was her high school sweetheart and now works as a pharmacist in a drug store. But their life together has become boring. So when her boss, Janice (Vanessa Williams), introduces her to Harley (Robbie Jones), a social-media magnate whom Janice covets as an investor, Judith is intrigued.
Astutely realizing her vulnerability, playboy Harley plies Judith with flattery, vintage champagne, rides in his Rolls Royce and red Ferrari and even arranges a jaunt in his private jet with intent to join the Mile High Club. At first, cuckolded Brice doesn’t grasp the situation – except that Judith’s not spending much time in their kitchen, cooking his dinner – particularly since he’s distracted by Melinda (R&B singer Brandy), a new assistant who’s escaping from an abusive boyfriend. But Judith’s Bible-quoting minister mother, Sarah (Ella Joyce), realizes exactly what’s happening and reprimands her daughter.
Adapted by writer/director Tyler Perry from his 2008 stage play, “The Marriage Counselor,” this is a sluggish, stilted cautionary tale about wanting what you haven’t got. To make his point about the sin of adultery, Perry predictably tosses in alcoholism, cocaine addition, domestic abuse and the heavy-handed threat of HIV infection as punishment for the promiscuous.
While Vanessa Williams’ amusingly fake French accent is diverting, TV’s reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” celebrity Kim Kardashian, the middle sister with the infamous sex tape, proves – indisputably – that she has zero acting talent, although she’s been astutely typecast as Ava, a rude, gold-digging office assistant who disses primly dressed Judith with bitchy remarks like: “Is your fashion icon Delta stewardess?”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Tyler Perry’s Temptation” is straitlaced, sermonizing 3, condemning those who deviate from righteous church teachings.