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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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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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CATHOLIC GREETINGS
St. Monica
The tears of this fourth-century mother contributed to her son's conversion to Christ.

Religious Profession
Lord of the harvest, thank you for all those Men and Women Religious who have answered your call to service.

Marriage
The love of husband and wife is the wellspring of love for the entire family.

Back to School
Students and staff will appreciate receiving an e-card from you to begin the new school year.

Happy Birthday
Best wishes for a joyous and peaceful birthday!




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