×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor’

Perry's latest offers a sluggish, relentlessly downbeat portrait of a young couple in crisis

The devil is in the details — or perhaps under the bed sheets — in “Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor,” a ludicrous marital drama-cum-morality play from contemporary black cinema’s most prolific multihyphenate. Significantly lacking in star wattage (including Perry’s own), this sluggish, relentlessly downbeat portrait of a young couple in crisis should play well to Perry’s fanbase, but won’t draw anywhere near Madea-sized crowds at a very competitive Easter box office.

Like many of Perry’s films, this one originated as a stage play, though judging from the evidence onscreen, it’s hard to imagine it playing very far outside the dinner-theater circuit. Framed as the titular “confession,” related by a marriage counselor to her latest client, “Temptation” introduces childhood sweethearts Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Brice (Lance Gross), married for several years and living in Washington, D.C., where Brice works as a pharmacist in a small family drugstore (run by Yiddishe Momme Renee Taylor, whom some may initially mistake for Perry himself in whiteface and drag).

Judith, meanwhile, holds one of the more fanciful jobs in recent movie memory: “inhouse therapist” for Janice (Vanessa Williams), a high-end matchmaker with a Pepe Le Pew accent and a devoted minion (Kim Kardashian) whose primary responsibility seems to be castigating Judith for her sensible shoes and discount-store couture. (“Is your fashion icon Delta stewardess?”)

As if credibility were not already stretched to the breaking point, it soon emerges that, for all her supposed insight into relationship compatibility, Judith is a nice Christian girl who’s never been with any man except Brice. Which makes her the perfect catnip for Harley (Robbie Jones), a social-media billionaire who comes calling ostensibly to invest in Janice’s company, but quickly makes a bigger bid to get Judith into the sack.

From there, “Temptation” takes a sharp right turn toward the smugly moralistic. Harley isn’t just a snake in Judith’s middle-class Eden. With his Internet billions, he promises to set her up in the private marriage counseling practice she’s always dreamed of, proves chivalrous (nearly pummeling a cyclist who accidentally runs into Judith in a park) where Brice is cowardly, takes her for rides in his Ferrari and Rolls, and eventually entreats her on to his private plane — a one-way ticket to the Mile High Club. But fret not: Like a subsequent bathroom tryst cloaked in enough steam for a three-alarm blaze, this encounter has been skillfully designed not to offend Perry’s churchgoing base or endanger his PG-13 rating.

Love of money is the root of all evil, don’t we know, because the Bible says so and because the notion of Judith being tempted by a rich guy who isn’t also a total asshole would be far too complex for Perry’s reductive universe. So, having attained his prize, Harley stands revealed as a sadistic bully luring Judith into a decadent underworld of very bad behavior (evidenced by a throbbing techno rave party that’s like Perry’s answer to the masked ball from “Eyes Wide Shut”).

In the interest of padding the running time to nearly a full two hours, Perry also adds a second woman-in-distress subplot involving a mysterious new pharmacy assistant (Brandy Norwood) on the run from something — or someone — in her troubled past. Less mysterious is the true identity of the film’s unnamed narrator, who leaves the listener of her story suitably traumatized, but with no clear moral to take away, save perhaps: Listen to your mother and you won’t end up getting divorced, or getting an STD, or both.

Perry previously took on the subjects of marriage, infidelity and the hard work of sustaining relationships with far more nuance in his 2007 dramedy “Why Did I Get Married?,” in which the characters were reasonably three-dimensional and had some semblance of inner lives. Here, they’re mere puppets on Perry’s strings, and impossible roles for the actors. Gross, in particular, spends most of the movie projecting all the assertiveness of a teacup chihuahua, only to finally rise to the occasion when the script needs him to, his dearly beloved poised on the threshold of damnation. What more, really, can one say about a movie in which Kim Kardashian is the single most believable thing on screen?

Consistent with most of Perry’s films, craft contributions are adequate but undistinguished, with occasional overhead shots of metro D.C. adding a dollop of location flavor to otherwise obvious Georgia soundstage shooting.

Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

Reviewed at AMC Empire 25, New York, March 28, 2013. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 111 MIN.

A Lionsgate release presented with TPS of a TPS/Lionsgate production. Produced by Tyler Perry, Ozzie Areu, Paul Hall. Executive producers, Michael Paseornek, Mike Upton.

Directed, written by Tyler Perry, based on his stage play “The Marriage Counselor.” Camera (Deluxe color, HD, widescreen), Alexander Gruszynski; editor, Maysie Hoy; music, Aaron Zigman; music supervisor, Joel C. High; production designer, Eloise C. Stammerjohn; art director, Gentry L. Akens, II; set decorator, Dane Moore; costume designer, Johnetta Boone; sound (Dolby Digital/Datasat), Chris Durfy; re-recording mixers, Joe Barnett, Marshall Garlington; assistant director, Chip Signore; second unit director, Paul Hall; casting, Kim Taylor-Coleman.

Cast: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Williams, Robbie Jones, Renee Taylor, Ella Joyce, Brandy Norwood.

Film Review: 'Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor'

More Film

  • Liam Gallagher and Son shopping at

    Cannes: Screen Media Buys 'Liam Gallagher: As It Was' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Screen Media has acquired North American rights to Charlie Lightening and Gavin Fitzgerald’s feature documentary “Liam Gallagher: As It Was.” The film follows the former Oasis frontman as he finds himself on the periphery of the rock ‘n’ roll world after years spent at the white hot center of the music world. Screen Media will [...]

  • La Casa de Papel Netflix

    Madrid Region Booms as an International Production Hub

    Madrid is booming as never before in its 125-year film history; arguably, no other European site is currently transforming so quickly into a global production hub. A 20-minute drive north of the Spanish capital, a large white-concrete hanger has been built beside the Madrid-Burgos motorway, at the entrance to Tres Cantos, a well-heeled satellite village and industrial [...]

  • Emirati Comedy

    Cannes: Stuart Ford's AGC Takes World Sales on Emirati Comedy 'Rashid and Rajab'

    Stuart Ford’s AGC International sales arm has taken global distribution rights outside the Middle East to Dubai-set concept comedy “Rashid and Rajab” which will be hitting movie theaters in the region starting in June. The deal between the film’s production company Image Nation Abu Dhabi and AGC, which have a close rapport, was signed in [...]

  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu

    China Box Office: Weekend Chart Dominated By Non-Chinese Films

    Unusually, all of the top five films at the China box office this weekend were non-Chinese. That’s a relatively rare occurrence, as audiences typically favor local films over foreign content. But it is one that may happen more often, as high-performing local titles become fewer and farther between due to production slowdowns. The lack of [...]

  • White Lie

    Playtime Boards Canadian Psychological Thriller 'White Lie' Starring Kacey Rohl (EXCLUSIVE)

    One of France’s leading sales companies, Playtime has boarded “White Lie,” a character-driven psychological thriller film from the promising new Toronto-based directors Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas. Now in post-production, “White Lie” is headlined by Kacey Rohl, who has been seen in hit TV series such as “The Killing,” “Arrow,” “Hannibal” and “Wayward Pines.” Rohl [...]

  • Cannes’ Focus CoPro’ Gives Push for

    Cannes’ Focus CoPro’ Gives Push for First-Time Features

    CANNES–Seven first-feature projects will be pitched to an audience of industry professionals at Focus CoPro’, an event hosted by Cannes’ Short Film Corner that will take place Tuesday May 21 at the Palais des Festivals. The pitching session, which is run in collaboration with Nisi Masa and the Pop Up Film Residency, was introduced last year [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content