TEMPTATION: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V -3; L -5; S/N -2. Running time: 1 hour 51 min.

“…and lead us not into temptation…”

Matthew 6:13a

Tyler Perry is writer and director of still another morality tale, but this one proves to be embarrassingly unsubtle. It reminds me of the ostensibly Biblical films of Cecil B. DeMille in that it mixes a large dose of sex with a pinch of Biblical morality, the latter making you feel good while at the same time enjoying the former. (A few years ago the film’s rating would have been R! The poster certainly is.) Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is married to her childhood sweetheart Brice (Lance Gross), but the passion has gone out of their marriage, especially after Brice forgets her birthday for the second year in a row. He is a pharmacist whose dream is to own his own drug store, whereas she is an ambitios therapist working at a Washington DC matchmaking agency, but eager to start her own clinic.

Thus Judith is ripe and open to the charms of Harley (Robbie Jones), who takes more than a professional interest in her. An extremely wealthy social-media entrepreneur, he is in town negotiating a deal with her boss boss Janice (Vanessa Williams). Also at the office is Judith’s catty colleague Ava (Kim Kardashian), hwo never lets a moment slip by without criticizing Judith’s plain wardrobe and make up. She is more than willing, once Judith is ready to bite into the Genesis apple, to prepare her friend for the fall that will take place when Judith agrees to travel to New Orleans with Harley in his private jet.

The depiction of the breakdown of her marriage is well done, as it was in Perry’s previous film Good Deeds, but the characters are so black and white, especially Harley, who of course, turns out to be an abusive cad, that the film is fatally weakened. Her mother Sara (Ella Joyce) serves as the conscience/prophet. Warning her daughter of the consequences of her actions. Brice is so broken up when Judith abandons him that we come to believe that he will take up with the troubled young woman he has hired, Melinda (Brandy Norwood), but given the opportunity she pulls back, comforting him while making it clear that is he extent of their relationship. The violent last act seems as if it is part of a different movie, making this one of the least successful of Tyler Perry’s films. I almost wished that his Medea would show up to pound some sense into Judith’s head.

For Reflection/Discussion

1. What in the movie might make you think that Perry is going after two markets—the church audience and fans of steamy romances?

2. What does the apple shown in the opening credits (I believe) make you think of?

3. How does the story show the danger of a spouse taking the other for granted?

4. How do the characters and their vocational goals show the potential for future trouble? That is, Brice’s dream of owning a drug store and Jusith’s ambition to head her own clinic?

5. What do you think of the way that the character of Harley is written and depicted? Too much of “the snake in the garden” ?

6. What do you think of the ending? Believable, or playing to the audience’s desires?