This may sound like faint praise, but I did not hate “Tyler Perry’s Temptation.”
Or, more specifically, I did not hate the first 80 minutes of “Temptation.” The final 30 minutes on the other hand? That’s when the movie flushes all the good that came before it down the toilet.
Up until that point, “Temptation” is as predictable and melodramatic as any other non-Madea movie Tyler Perry has ever produced. Subtitled “Confessions of a Marriage Counselor,” the movie is more or less Perry’s take on “Unfaithful” with Diane Lane, with a bored matchmaker (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) being enticed by a handsome billionaire (Robbie Jones) while her pharmacist husband (Lance Gross) is sitting at home watching football and forgetting her birthdays.
Because this is a Perry movie, you should expect nearly everyone to be improbably beautiful (literally — both Jones and Gross have the kinds of bodies you’d only find in an ad for Acqua Di Gio) and well-dressed despite their chosen professions. You should also be able to predict lots of cheesy melodrama and a script that probably sounded a whole lot better on paper than it does on film (my favorite line: “If you want to groan at something, you can groan at this sandwich”).
But what you may not be able to predict is the movie’s shocking and abrupt plot twists as “Temptation” should be wrapping itself up. The final third of the movie gets into some seriously strange territory, with characters taking to drug abuse, physical abuse and unprecedented fits of aggression. One minute, Smollett and Jones are on his private jet sipping champagne and giggling over beignets, the next minute they’re strung out and on the path to destruction. It makes no sense.
It’s a real bummer because, much to my iffy-on-Perry chagrin, “Temptation” started off swell. Big fans of Perry’s who can overlook the black-and-white characters and wild shifts in substance and tone may not take the same issues with the film. Everyone else may feel the temptation to see something else.
★★ out of ★★★★
Rated PG-13 for language, allusions to drug use and steamy sex scenes. 111 minutes, 2013.
Director: Tyler Perry. Starring: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Robbie Jones.
Read all of Jesse Hoheisel’s reviews at AFistfulofPopcorn.com.