TYLER PERRY’S TEMPTATION: CONFESSIONS OF A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR (Tyler Perry). 111 minutes. Opens Friday (March 29). See listings. Rating: NNN
Tyler Perry marginally redeems himself after Good Deeds and Madea's Witness Protection. For those films, the multi-hyphenate filmmaker stepped out of his comfort zone and lost some of his grip on his loyal audience. At least for the moment, Temptation has Perry genuinely preaching to his parish about marriage and infidelity.
I'm not referring to his broad, finger-wagging, melodramatic strokes, where bad behaviour is punished with Biblical flair in a ridiculous third act that wouldn't suffer if Madea showed up in a cameo as the archangel.
Instead, I'm thinking of his less contrived look at how the loving union between Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Brice (Lance Gross) opens up to temptation simply because they get too comfortable in their marriage. Perry admirably takes his time to feel out their relationship, gesturing to the intimate cracks and only occasionally wielding a sledgehammer to drive his arguments home.
The writer/director accurately points out how, when a marriage gets dull, you don't actually need a rich, intense playboy (Robbie Jones) who reveals himself to be Lucifer incarnate to speed up the "till death do us part" process. Perry just goes that route because he does so love that sledgehammer.
Temptation isn't all gloom-and-doom. Occasional fun bits include such game co-stars as Vanessa Williams, Brandy and even Kim Kardashian as Judith's co-worker, whose only job, it seems, is to chastise women for not dressing as nice as she does.
It's a role so perfectly tailored to Kardashian, the diva didn't even risk breaking a nail to play it.