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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Lance Gross and Jurnee Smollett-Bell star in "Tyler Perry's "Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor."
The stereotyped characters and windup plot of "Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor" (Lionsgate) put the stale in morality tale.

Only Perry's most devoted fans will likely enjoy this story of Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and her struggle—not, admittedly, an especially heroic one—with adultery.

No one actually listens to Judith. Instead, they talk at her. As in all of Perry's stories, however, there's a stiff moral spine. In this instance, the ethical backbone derives from Judith's churchgoing youth in the rural South, which was overseen by her devoted single mother Sarah (Ella Joyce), a minister.

With a master's degree in counseling and hoping to launch her own marriage-counseling firm, Judith is married to her childhood sweetheart, stalwart but dull Brice (Lance Gross). They live in Washington, where Brice is a pharmacist at a small independent drugstore; Judith is stuck working for a high-end dating service for wealthy men.

Judith is ordered by boss Janice (Vanessa Williams) to cultivate Harley (Robbie Jones), a high-tech multimillionaire Janice hopes will invest in the firm. Harley is unhappy because he says it's tough "to be able to buy whatever you want, and beg for what you need."

He's fascinated that Judith has only ever had one man in her life, and begins a simmering flirtation as they develop a computer program to determine compatibility. He even grills her about her marriage: "Does he challenge you mentally? Does he bring out the best in you?"

When Janice orders Judith to accompany Harley on a business trip to New Orleans—well, there you go. Judith takes on an entirely new personality as a sultry, well-dressed, wine-swilling adulteress.

It's time for the Rev. Sarah to reappear, lecturing all in her path, including Brice. There's the predictable bickering, and when she learns that Brice has faltered in attending worship services, Sarah proclaims, "You need yo' (behind) whipped with the King James Version!"

Moral bearings are righted, as is the pattern in Perry's films, after considerable emotional pain. But it's mostly just talk, talk, talk—slow moving, and not in the least compelling.

The film contains an adultery theme with two nongraphic adulterous encounters, drug use, sexual banter and fleeting crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Rita of Cascia: Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow and member of a religious community. Her holiness was reflected in each phase of her life. 
<p>Born at Roccaporena in central Italy, Rita wanted to become a nun but was pressured at a young age into marrying a harsh and cruel man. During her 18-year marriage, she bore and raised two sons. After her husband was killed in a brawl and her sons had died, Rita tried to join the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. Unsuccessful at first because she was a widow, Rita eventually succeeded. </p><p>Over the years, her austerity, prayerfulness and charity became legendary. When she developed wounds on her forehead, people quickly associated them with the wounds from Christ's crown of thorns. She meditated frequently on Christ's passion. Her care for the sick nuns was especially loving. She also counseled lay people who came to her monastery. </p><p>Beatified in 1626, Rita was not canonized until 1900. She has acquired the reputation, together with St. Jude, as a saint of impossible cases. Many people visit her tomb each year.</p> American Catholic Blog Your sins are great? Just tell the Lord: Forgive me, help me to get up again, change my heart! –Pope Francis

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