Does Tyler Perry Even Watch His Own Films?

Temptation is so bad that one wonders if he's aware he relies on stereotypes and flawed storytelling.

Scene from Tyler Perry's Temptation (Lionsgate)
Scene from Tyler Perry's Temptation (Lionsgate)

(The Root) — Confession? I actually like really bad movies. Film reviews and criticism, though valuable to those who enjoy thinking, aren’t too helpful when you know going into the theater that once the lights go dim, you’re in for something pretty dumb.

But boy, does Tyler Perry’s latest effort — Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor — drop the limbo bar of bad to dangerous new lows, even for the most limber of fans.

Like most people who appreciate the art of cinema, I don’t consider Perry’s Ford factory of films anything resembling art. There’s the Mona Lisa, and then there’s that poster of black Jesus you picked out of a lineup on 125th Street. There’s absolutely no critical comparison. But that doesn’t mean you can’t admire both. Same goes with Perry’s entire big-screen canon, which, by existing almost entirely in its own Frankensteinian genre, can be measured only against itself.

But even for a Perry film, with its heavy melodrama, painfully obvious plot points, rigidly drawn stick-figure characters and heavy-handed Holy Ghost heroism, Temptation is more than slapstick; it’s a slap in the face. Perry’s proselytizing has gone from Grandma-approved to “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to see this movie.”

For those who’ve managed to miss the monsoon of bad reviews, which thus far have been the best thing about this film, the plot is crazy-simple — literally. Judith (played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is a good Christian woman, unhappy in a boring marriage to her childhood sweetheart and unsatisfied in a dead-end job. But instead of articulating her legitimate feelings of discontent, Judith falls for a charming and successful drug-addicted sociopath, who seduces the former Miss Goody Two-Shoes with lines like “Sex should be random, like animals” and “It’s very sexy how slow you’re breathing.”

Walking into the theater, I was more than prepared to settle in for a solid two hours of cathartic hate-watching after poring over some of the most inventive and entertaining film reviews I’ve read since Gigli.

Peter Sobczynski at the Chicago Sun-Times had this to say: “Take one of those cheesy direct-to-video erotic thrillers from the early ’90s that kept Tanya Roberts and Shannon Tweed in cigarette money, remove virtually all the erotic content and replace it with hard-core preachiness and a storyline that fans of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ would find to be trite and poorly developed and you have ‘Tyler Perry’s Temptation,’ which sounds like the name of a designer fragrance and which does indeed stink.”