Starring Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross, Robbie Jones, Brandy Norwood, Ella Joyce, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Williams, Renée Taylor
Directed by Tyler Perry
There are those that liken the release of a new Tyler Perry film to the coming of a multitude of locusts, and so my interest was always somewhat piqued to delve into his films. I always figured that they couldn’t possibly be so bad as everyone made them out to be; that it had to be hyperbole. So after watching Temptation, the first Tyler Perry movie I’ve seen, I can definitively say that the naysayers are indeed bringing down wave upon wave of hyperbole onto Perry and his creations. One look at the Rotten Tomatoes page for this film says it all: the critic score is 18%, while 74% of users liked it. Judging on Temptation alone, Tyler Perry is clearly not making artistic, cinematic gems to dazzle the critics, he’s making populist entertainment for the masses that are looking for a good melodramatic fix. And boy, let me tell you, this one is full of melodrama.
Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is a therapist working at a millionaire matchmaking service, run by Vanessa Williams doing a bad French accent. I should note that while the accent is bad and somewhat grating throughout, it does lead to a fantastic moment of heightened melodrama late in the film that I just loved. Anyway, Judith is tasked with working with an Internet millionaire named Harley (Robbie Jones), helping him to develop a matchmaking website for the Williams’s service. He begins to seduce her, and as Judith is married to a great, but detached guy names Brice (Lance Gross), she responds. The setup is pretty simple, for sure, but as a melodrama it’s not so much about giving you unique, specific plot points as it is about giving you fun, heightened derivatives of formula and pulling out your raw emotional responses.