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)

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Perry’s ongoing disinterest in improving as a filmmaker is now seemingly part of his unshakable belief in himself, his insistence on doing his thing his way.”

And Avclub.com’s review — “Temptation is initially disappointingly straightforward, despite a framing device that essentially posits the film as the longest, craziest flashback since Pootie Tang” — was only aided by the comments section, where readers competed to rename the film. “Tyler Perry Presents Tyler Perry in Tyler Perry’s Tyler Perry: The Tyler Perry Story based on the novel ‘Tyler Perry’ by Tyler Perry” was my favorite.

The point is, I’d been warned and was still undeterred.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman remains one of my favorite films, not just one of my favorite Tyler Perry films, and in eight years and more than 10 big-screen productions since, I had been holding out hope that the writer-director-actor would return to that harmonious blend of campy fun and sweetness. But how quickly hope deflates when the best thing about your viewing experience is the mini pecan pie you managed to sneak in.

I was really excited for how bad Temptation was supposed to be, but instead of reveling in the ridiculousness of it all, I left wondering whether Perry actually watches his own movies. Does he realize that successful women are the victims of their own ambition in nearly every one of his films? Does he realize that doling out HIV diagnoses as punishment for baddies is an incredibly flawed storytelling device? Does he realize that passion and violent sexual aggression are not one and the same? Does he know that the kinds of stereotypical tropes in which he barters are self-hating at best and dangerous at worst?

So, as one character in Temptation asks, “How does this story end?”

Most people with eyes and ears are in agreement that Perry’s films have been on a steady downward spiral of laziness. They’re consistently panned by critics, and even hard-core Perryphiles are starting to see the light. The real question is, does Perry?

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to attribute a quote from a review of Temptation to Peter Sobczynski rather than Roger Ebert.  

Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter. 

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