Temptation - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Temptation Reviews

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Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
September 9, 2013
I've never seen a Tyler Perry movie before this review. I've paid attention to the noted writer/director making his own empire with healthy returns from African-American audiences, primarily female. The man has developed a monstrous following built upon his stage plays and now his films. Honestly, I just never felt the desire to watch a Perry film. I sort of figured what I'd be getting and decided I had other things to do with my time. So why did I finally take the leap and watch a Perry film? I don't think most objective critics would refer to Perry's oeuvre as quality, but I also don't think a past Perry production has been as derided as Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (based upon his play). One of my duties as a film critic is to seek out the movies I suspect may be the worst of that year so that I can have a better perspective on the best and worst movies in a calendar year (my only rationale, besides morbid curiosity, for watching InAPPropriate Comedy). Chiefly I watched Temptation because I feared it would be bad, and it was indeed, but what I didn't expect was how incensed it would make me with its repugnant, piggish, and asinine portrayal of women. Oh, and the rest of the movie isn't good either.

A marriage counselor tells a young couple the cautionary tale of Judith (Jumee Smollet-Bell), a 26-year-old therapist working for a high end Washington D.C. matchmaker service. She's married to her childhood sweetheart, Brice (Lance Gross), who works as a pharmacist with dreams of opening his own store one day. Judith would like to open her own counselor office but is told to wait. Then Harley (Robbie Jones) steps into her life. He's the rich successful inventor of Class-Meet, "the third most successful social media guru since Zuckerberg." Let that one soak in (who or what is #2?). Harley wants to develop a personality matching service and thinks Judith's unique insights into people are key to cracking this business. In reality, he just wants to sleep with her and eventually does one night when he forces herself on her. Judith is a wreck and can't stop seeking more attention from Harley. Not even Judith's mother, Reverend Sarah (Ella Joyce), can save her as she plummets into a life of drugs and shocking behavior.

The ostensible message from Perry's film/sermon is so odious that it caused me great discomfort and made me question Perry's reputation as a female-friendly writer. This is designed to be a cautionary tale about the power of lust leading good women astray, and it appears that it's only women in this world, but moving on. It's designed to impart lessons to the audience, but the only lesson I kept partaking, again and again, was that, ladies, it's all your fault. It's all Judith's fault and she must be punished for her wicked ways, except it only takes a small moment of pause to realize that this is completely untrue. First of all, Judith's marriage is not the wellspring of happiness that Perry may want people to interpret. Her husband has fallen into old routines and clearly neglects her needs; the guy forgot her birthday TWO YEARS IN A ROW. How does that happen? There are clear communication issues as well. He's unwilling to expand his sexual activity beyond chaste lovemaking in the same location. He expects her to cook him food by the end of the night (more on this topic later) and he downplays her desires, not just sexually, but professionally, her goal to open her own counseling office. They've been childhood sweethearts for over twenty years, but that time commitment doesn't necessarily mean that they are meant for one another (more of that topic later).

Regardless, all of this is context for Judith considering straying from her husband with the more assertive, dangerous, and attentive Harley. But here's the distinction. Judith is raped. She doesn't cheat on her husband, Harley rapes her, and she blames herself. Not just that, Perry and the film appear to take the position that she is to blame, that she brought it all on herself. She tells Harley no, he advances anyway, she physically tries to push him away but he overpowers her, finally adding, "Now you can say you resisted." I'm sorry to be blunt but what the f*** is that? What kind of sick, rape-culture coddling erroneous thinking is this, that all women secretly want sex despite physically trying to escape and screaming no? Harley isn't supposed to be an upstanding character, so his actions have some degree of understanding in context, but how could Perry posit this garbage? And apparently, according to the movie, she really wanted it all along despite her protests because only a day later she's flooding Harley with phone calls begging for more. She's fallen for her rapist. At no point does any character refer to this as rape. At no point does Judith consider herself a victim. At no point does any character blame someone other than Judith.

What's even more disgusting is that Judith must continue to be punished, and so (spoiler alert) she is given HIV. Harley is HIV-positive, and so the man who raped her transmitted a deadly STD, and it's all Judith's fault. She should have known better than letting a man like that rape her. I have to stop from throwing up in my mouth just typing these sentences. And for the final insult, the end reveals that Brice didn't catch her HIV and in fact has a new wife and a lovely family. Judith is all alone. Because it's not possible for HIV-positive people to raise children, right? The closing shot, I kid you not, is Judith's sad long walk into the distance, to essentially contemplate what she did and all that has been wrought. Forget that despicable nonsense.

Perry's films deal with such unrelenting melodrama that you'd be hard-pressed to find anything subtle, least of all is the religious content. Thanks to my colleague, Ben Bailey, and his self-imposed penalty of watching all of the Madea films (enjoy Madea Saves Christmas, Ben) I have a better understanding of the man's tropes in his prolific filmography, and Perry's proselytizing is a constant. I don't have a problem with faith and spirituality, a personal subject, but rarely are matters of faith as simplistic as Perry's solutions seem. Perry's ongoing solution seems to be going back to Jesus for the one-size-fits-all problem of... not enough Jesus. That's about it. Every problem seems to stem from a deficient amount of religion or spiritual virtues in a person's life. This notion extends to Judith as well, as her reverend mother seems to pinpoint all her troubles to not going to church. You see, sleeping in on Sundays has made Judith a less moral person, even though she still firmly believes in no sex before marriage enough to not even consider questions of sexuality with her profile service she's designing with Harley. Really Judith, do you think everyone has those same values? I could lay that same inquiry to Perry, because none other than the devil besets Judith, at least that's literally hat Harley is referenced to at several points. And in such black and white concepts, the complexity of a relationship naturally deteriorating and entering malaise is summed up with a ham-fisted account that our heroine wouldn't have had her troubles if she had just been more religious. She was raped and given HIV as a lesson to go to church, you see.

The mother character is the embodiment of self-righteous indignation and hypocrisy. At no point is any of her judgmental sermonizing helpful, and the fact that she breaks into her daughter's home to have a spiritual intervention is just ridiculous. What is most appalling is a revelation that the movie barely has time to note before speeding past. Rev. Sarah has told Judith her whole life that her father died when she was young. He's actually alive. Judith unloads this bombshell, throwing the full weight of her mother's hypocrisy in her face, which mom causally brushes aside and says, "This isn't about me. It's about you." No, lady, you lying about your daughter's father is definitely about you. She offers no explanation for her decades of deceit and immediately moves back to demonizing Judith's behavior. That's very godly of her.

Another ongoing theme in Temptation as well as Perry's previous films is the all-out taboo of divorce. This old-fashioned perspective dictates that people, and notably women, should stick it out no matter what, even if their spouse is abusive, as in Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Apparently in this world it's better to be a married woman who gets beaten than a divorced woman who is physically safe. Newsflash: some relationships are not worth saving. Some people, despite effort and love, are just not meant to be together and some relationships just cannot be fixed. That conclusion isn't giving up, it's accepting a hard reality and meeting it with guts. This warped perspective is also tied in with the expectations placed upon Judith, namely being subservient to her husband. Seriously, her mom complains that she doesn't cook enough meals for her husband. The depiction of this old-fashioned relationship itself isn't as insulting, but when given certain credence that this subservient-woman relationship is superior, that's when any freethinking individual, man or woman, should feel offended.

And I haven't even mentioned that Kim Kardashian is in this movie, and oh ye God is she terrible. Written especially for her, Kardashian acts like a whiny child with one baby-voiced way of delivering any line. She could recite the Declaration of Independence and it would sound like a helium-voiced robot. Smollet-Bell (TV's True Blood, The Great Debaters) actually delivers an acceptable performance given everything she has to fight against. She has a memorable face and displays enough talent to be noticed. The gentlemen do fine jobs, though Gross (TV's House of Payne, Our Family Wedding) is far, far too sexy for a pharmacist. The man stepped out of the shower and has the physique of a superhero, not some guy who's going to give pills to little old ladies.

Need one more example as to how astonishingly false and misguided and downright offensive Temptation is? In the opening narration, Judith explains that her childhood dream was to become a marriage counselor, and Brice's childhood dream was to become a pharmacist. What? I doubt you'll be able to find any two children on this planet where pharmacist and marriage counselor are at the top of the list. It's details like this that showcase the lack of care given to the plot, characters, and general attempts at subtlety. The details don't matter in Perry's world because all that matters are the Big Points he has to say with the force of a falling anvil, usually about marriage and God. Temptation is a detestable film because of how ugly it treats women and its myopic, pigheaded, and often outdated views on relationships. It's like the movie was created in a different era, one where women were expected to know their place. In the realm of Tyler Perry's Temptation, if you go away from Jesus, you will get raped and you will get AIDS and you will have no one else to blame but yourself, ladies. This tone-deaf sermon is full of bad messages, bad writing, bad acting, and naive answers to complex human problems. The only real temptation you should feel while watching this movie is to eject it and break the DVD in half.

Nate's Grade: D-
MANUGINO
Super Reviewer
April 15, 2013
Seduction is the devil's playground.

Good movie! The story line was actually interesting, and I love movies with a twist. This movie pulled me in and played with my emotions. It made me ask myself questions and wonder what I would do if I were in the main characters shoes. I would totally watch this movie again!

An ambitious married woman's temptation by a handsome billionaire leads to betrayal, recklessness, and forever alters the course of her life.
Super Reviewer
July 16, 2013
I'm admitting that this is the first time I have actually sat down and watch a Tyler Perry directed movie. I've seen bits and pieces of them on TV, but that's it. His melodramatic, slam in the face approach to drama has not really appealed to my interests, but I watched this because my fiancÚ wanted too. The fact that she didn't like it either leads me to believe that only non-discriminating movie watchers who just want to watch fun trash will like this. The film practically screams its messages at you throughout. Don't cheat! Don't take your spouse for granted! Be good little boy & girls or you'll go to hell! Not exactly subtle in any way, and a third act twist is just the icing on the cake in terms of going over the top. I will say though, as bad as this film was, I was actually pretty entertained by the trashiness of it. I see why he has fans; I will just never be one of them. The acting ranges from ok to just plain awful (looking at Kim Kardashian here). I'm sure his direction doesn't help matters, but literally EVERYTHING has to be over the top to the point that I was actually laughing a couple of times. There's a few poignant moments and obviously his messages have good intentions throughout, but you can tell he is an amateurish film director still learning the ropes because he refuses to compromise.
Super Reviewer
½ July 3, 2013
**1/2
Tyler Perry movies are really something else. They are so melodramic that it comes to a point where you just have to roll your eyes and laugh. I've seen all of his movies and I enjoy them, but it's because they really fall in the "so bad, it's good" category. "Temptation" is about a married couple who are in a rut when the wife has an affair with a millionaire who she works with. This movie is so unrealistic, and I'm gonna have to give some spoilers so beware when reading this. First, her husband comes off as a goody two shoe guy who is very nice and won't have sex anywhere but the bed. But, he also forgets her birthday and is the most ripped human being alive. Now, if he is the nicest guy, he would NEVER forget her birthday, let alone two years in a row. I'm sorry, but nice guys don't do that. Second, they both have good jobs and would never live in this rinky dink apartment with a 13 inch TV. Third, there's 2 twists at the end. One, I saw a mile away and it's ridiculous, and the other is about a girl having HIV. The moral of the movie is literally "if you have an affair, you will get beat up and get HIV". It's so outlandish. The only thing that would have made this movie great, would have been at the end if the wife became Madea(make this a prequel). But, Madea is nowhere to be found. Also, Vanessa Williams plays a rich matchmaker with the most unrealistic accent ever, and even drops it for a scene or two towards the end. Just stupid. If you watch this for a serious dramatic movie, then you are gonna be disappointed. The acting is bad(it has Kim Kardashian in it for Christ's sake), it's way too long(at 2 hours), and it's just so unrealistic and goes overboard. Especially when the affair happens, it just spirals downhill. The wife becomes a druggy who is constantly sniffing her nose, after spending the first hour as a nice, sweet, Christian woman. Now, if you watch it as a goofy Tyler Perry movie and laugh and call out his cliches, then you will have fun with it. It has a woman get beat, a montage to gospal music, over the top Christian Black women, and the slow dramatic pop songs. My wife didn't like it because it was too long and she felt she should have been in bed(she actually stayed awake). It's worth a one time watch if you enjoy his movies. Otherwise, just don't bother.
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2013
HHAHHHHHAAAAAAHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAHHHHAAAAA
Bathsheba Monk
Super Reviewer
April 3, 2013
This is just a good old-fashioned story. And Tyler Perry is radical in that he doesn't go for high-octane pyrotechnics to tell that story. The set-up in this seemed vaguely Woody Allen--probably the richly appointed work-place, good looking actors and the great-though-small apartment where the happy couple live. And the story is basically girl and boy forever and ever until....one of them realizes they're not newlyweds and where did all that passion go? Who hasn't been there? And who hasn't felt that overwhelming pull of desire for the wrong person which produces some kind of chemical which replaces your brain? I can't think of another movie-maker who is making movies based so convincingly on real life. I am definitely a fan.
Super Reviewer
October 29, 2012
Watching Kim Kardasian try to act was almost painful. Outside of that is was a very raw and gritty film. Tyler Perry dishes up another dose of good life lessons with a side of laughs.
½ January 1, 2016
I wasn't expecting the twist at the end of the movie. This goes to show that if a man has a good wife, he shouldn't take her for granted. Wives should also be open about their feelings. Men aren't mind reader's ya know....
June 9, 2015
Tyler Perry tries to branch out of his Madea movies and go into a more character centered film, but while it's a little more tolerable than recent Madea films, it's too predictable and shallow to be truly memorable
January 21, 2015
I love the story. it's sad but true the role of life and our own life get us tired that we don't really see the person that is in front of us. when we want to go back we can. really good film. ones aging Tyler perry did it again..
May 20, 2015
I really loved Diary of Mad Black Woman but I am torn over this movie. I can see how everything else going in the film can be realistic. I can absolutely identify with the everyday struggles of a long term relationship but WHY.T.F. is kim kardashian in this movie? Everything else going on in the movie felt decently acted and plausible. But every scene with Kim is wooden and cue carded. They put her in these hideous outfits that don't hide the lines of her Spanx. I'll give her this.. she plays the role of vapid bitch vain coworker well. Vanessa Williams pretending to sound French was bothersome as well. I think this movie had potential but was miscast. WOMP WOMP......
½ May 6, 2013
Tyler....When are we really going to put together a love story with real substance, this movie was so predictable, I like Jurnee Smollett-Bell she is awesome, but lets focus on a real mind boggling how is this story gonna end, "I thought he was the one that did it" Wow! kinda love story
January 6, 2015
I'd die for you.

An ambitious woman from a small town struggling to make ends meet with her small town high school sweet heart in the big city one day meets a rich playboy of sorts. The playboys tells her everything she needs to hear to feel good and have a new exciting lifestyle. She may find out her new exciting lifestyle has as many pitfalls as peaks.

"Why don't you take the whole bucket?"
"Oh, I don't want the whole bucket."

Tyler Perry, director of Diary of a Mad Black Woman, I Can Do Bad All by Myself, For Better or Worse, Madea's Whiteness Protection, Why Did I Get Married 1 & 2, and Meet the Browns, delivers Temptation. The storyline for this picture is very interesting even if the characters are a bit stale and stiff at times. The acting was average and the cast includes Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross, Kim Karashian, Vanessa Williams, Robbie Jones, and Brandy Norwood.

"I'm not a lesbian."

We randomly grabbed this off Netflix the other night because we thought the previews looked interesting when it was in theatres. I did enjoy the film and couldn't wait to see what happened, but the characters were frustrating and robotic at times. The acting really is amateurish, but the plot is good and worth following. I recommend seeing this picture for sure.

"She's cheating."

Grade: C+
October 23, 2014
I actually liked this movie! I thought it had a lot of deep meanings within the film. I will be watching this one again!
October 15, 2014
A really terrible film. Basically a morality tale which seeks to inform women that they need to not cheat on their husbands or else they will get AIDSs. What shocked me was the fact that every woman who is not the god fearing church going mom is portrayed as a monster. Brandy even has a line in which she explains that she deserved to get aids because she knew the man she dated slept around. Nobody talks like that! Kim Kardashian is a complete bitch, the boss woman using a fake accent the whole film because she wants people to take her serious (b/c nobody questions a Black lady from the United States having a French accent) and the lead female is one of the most selfish human being ever. Throw into the the worlds most absentee husband and you have this film. Seriously this dude gives 0 shits about what is wife is doing at any point in the film until it is almost over. I'm going to assume this is Tyler Perry's worst film but I have no desire to see another one.
½ August 19, 2014
I have never seen a Tyler Perry film. It wasn't until a drunken party with friends that this bright idea came about of watching this movie on Netflix. There was one particular scene in the airplane that was really disturbing to me. And Perry portrays it as if tape is okay. This movie gives all women a bad rep if you ask me.
½ July 15, 2014
I'm not going to lie, Temptation is possibly the worst Tyler Perry movie I have ever seen. The characters are narcissistic and pretentious, the acting is atrocious, and the plot points are generic. Perry just gets worse and worse as a writer/director. This is the worst film in his filmography to boot.
½ June 19, 2014
Not an horrible movie but it's pretty bad. The acting is ok but, the actress who played Judith was awful. Lance Gross was ok. And Brandi was ok as well. Everything in this movie is highly predictable. The plot was kind of interesting at first then in the middle if the movie it started to get really ridiculous. The characters are very comical and sketchy. Towards the end the movie started to get annoying and very stupid when it comes to the twists. Overall one of Tyler Perry's better movies but at the end of the day the movie was bad.
March 22, 2014
Too much Hollywood and too little Original Tyler Perry. Movie was drawn out and some characters just didn't fit plus the ending was awful.
March 4, 2014
Oh Tyler Perry. I think you should stick to Madea. Your non-Madea things are so predictable and very similar.
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