Friday, September 20, 2013

DVD Review: Temptation; Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

Tyler Perry is one of the more fascinating people working in the film industry right now. Of course any movie coming almost entirely from one man (writing, directing, producing and occasionally acting) are going to be fascinating, if only because there’s no net to stop the more out there ideas, for good or ill. With Tyler Perry, the results are pretty much universally negative, but they’re oddly fascinating. I’m surprised no one has mentioned to him how poorly his costumed caricature bit as Madea fits into the rest of the movies he puts them in, or how poorly he manages to write his characters or how flat his direction is (and the less said about the way he treats his female characters the better). Still, he and his career are truly fascinating. And since Temptation is his first movie to not include Madea (and his Madea movies are much too similar to each other to review) I figured it’d be worth seeing for the purposes of discussing it.

Of course, the other reason I wanted to see it is because a few friends recommended it to me. And why did they recommend it to me, you ask? Because, they said, it’s bad. And before you assume my friends hate me, I will remind you I own a copy of The Room on blu-ray, so the idea that I’d enjoy a movie because it’s bad is not completely without precedent. And Temptation is…well it’s something else.

The plot is devoted to a wonderful and perfect woman in a naturally wonderful and perfect marriage with her childhood (and I mean early childhood, like 5) sweetheart. She moves to the big city (DC, I think, not that it matters) in an attempt to make it as a marriage counselor. But she’s unhappy, working at a matchmaking service for rich men, until she meets a rich programmer (we never find out what he did to become rich, but this movie isn’t in it for our benefit) whom she’s attracted to. Soon she begins to be tempted to cheat and then she does and blah blah blah. Look it’s basically a bad Cinemax porn movie with all the actual sex replaced by moral judgement.

The biggest and most hilarious problem with this film is the script. Tyler Perry has always been a flat out terrible screenwriter but never worse than here. It’s actually bad enough that I started to wonder if he’d ever interacted with another human being. Not a single line of dialogue sounds like a thing a human being would actually say and none of the character action have any consistency or any connection to what’s happening to them.

It’s also got a bizarre presentation, that’s almost entirely at odds with how the characters actually act. The first time the main character is seduced, the music and presentation are more like a slasher flick than a seduction. And it’s rather impressive how much they try to make the main character’s mother the moral grounded center of the film and then she still manages to come across as an unhinged fanatic.
Which is where the other major problem of this movie comes in, the unending moralizing. I’ve got no problems with a movie that wants to make a point, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it, but there’s a point where it starts to go overboard and when you are literally stopping the movie to have a pointless scene where a character screams that several street hooligans that they need Church, then you’ve gone too far.

Aside from that, there’s not much to say about it. It’s as badly directed as most of Tyler Perry’s movies are (though it’s fondness for random establishing shots make me compare it to Mr. Wiseau’s masterpiece). He’s also got this inability to get his actors to do anything other than overact to the point of embarrassment. I could point out that this is his theater background showing, but you’ve probably already figured that out so…yeah.

Tyler Perry is a prolific enough director that he makes Steven Soderbergh look lazy, and you’d think that with that level of output, his movies would begin to improve, if only through sheer trial and error. But between this and his upcoming Madea movie featuring Larry the Cable Guy (a teamup that made me want to call up Idris Elba and uncancel the apocalypse) I think he might actually be getting worse. As it stands, Temptation is an utterly worthless movie except as a punching bag for a bad movie party. And if that’s your bag, have at it, but be warned; It is, in quality, to Showgirls what Birddemic is to The Room: Limp, boring and preachy. So just be aware what you’re getting into, and I’ll see you next time.

Elessar is a 23 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he doesn’t have the time or energy to go into the fact that Kim Kardashian is in this movie.

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