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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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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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