Oh lord, you done it now. You gave that Tyler Perry fool your hard-earned money, didn’t you?
Hard-earned is debatable, but yes, I have finally seen a movie by the world’s foremost African American director. And with a title like Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, who on earth could refuse? God and sin, love and hate, fate and redemption. Tyler, take the wheel.
Before we get started, DAT ASS. You know I’m talking about Kim Kardashian.
Yes, Kim’s aboard, and she makes the very, very least of her brief screen time. Oh, but how she emotes. She pouts, droops her heavy eyelids, looks away, and now and again utters something like, “Oh my god, you’re wearing flats!” But it’s the big juicy that remains. I’ve seen asses, but good god almighty, I haven’t seen one like that in a thousand silver screen adventures. A man could eat a three-course meal off that thing and still have room for a game of checkers. It commands attention, freezes our gaze, steals our soul, and removes every trace of oxygen from any room it enters. I’m still not sure whether it’s sexy or ridiculous, so I might have to masturbate to make sure. If I’m interrupted by a giggling fit, I’ll have my answer.
So she’s not the main character? It’s not like Redbox to deceive its customers.
No, this is Judith’s tale. It’s her fall from grace, her tale of woe. The movie starts with an older Judith (older because she’s wearing owlish glasses and no make-up), now a marriage counselor, cautioning a client against leaving her husband for another man. You see, Judith knows. God, she knows. And she’s going to tell you all about it in a 110-minute flashback. Because you paying by the hour, and you still gonna listen. Judith loved a man named Brice. He was a pharmacist, she was fresh from school working for a matchmaking company for rich people. They’re in love, but he’s boring. And predictable. And he forgets her birthday. Twice! But Judith is a good Christian woman, and she’s only had sex with Brice. So we know she gonna fall.
This “matchmaking company”….Headed by Vanessa Williams, right?
This centerfold done got old. Old as dirt. Now, instead of hot to trot, she looks all puffy, like the Cowardly Lion with bad hair. And she has some weird French accent when we all know she’s from Georgia. But she’s your standard corporate bitch, and we just know she’s going to put Judith in a compromising position that brings down her house of cards.
Judith’s going to meet another man, huh? A rich, hot dude that does everything Brice doesn’t do?
He’s Harley, a billionaire web guy with his own company. “ClassMeet,” to be exact, to let us know it’s not at all a Facebook clone. He’s flirtatious, smooth, and has his own private jet. And he’s a man. More of a man, anyway, than that old, tired Brice. See, when Judith was harassed on the street one night, Brice didn’t do a thing. He avoided confrontation – like a pussy. But when Judith meets Harley in the park and they jog together, well, this leads to Judith getting hit by a bicycle, and Harley goes off on the cyclist. But rather than seeing this as foreshadowing the violence to come, she’s turned on by the machismo. Harley stood up for me! Yep, they gonna be fucking. And soon.
I hate to interrupt here, but why does the movie suddenly cut to a Brandy subplot?
Brandy, now looking more like Kenny Smith in a weave, is back from the dead as Melinda, a girl on the run. She starts working with Brice at the pharmacy, only she’s quiet and sad and carries a baseball bat to bed. Eventually, she reveals that she’s hiding from an abusive ex-boyfriend, who couldn’t possibly be that Harley guy, because that would be just too ridiculous.
So how do we know that Harley is turning Judith to the dark side?
During a business meeting, Harley flirts shamelessly and tells her that people in love should be fucking in the bathroom, the kitchen, and on a plane. Be like animals, he insists. Judith clings to Christian virtue, but upon returning home, she attacks Brice, slapping his face and demanding that he growl for her. Brice is appalled, and he tells her that they’ll make love like they always do, with fluffed pillows, lights out, and Al Green on the CD player. Wait a minute….isn’t that exactly what Harley said Brice would say? Dammit all, Brice IS dull and predictable. Sure, his muscles make Dwight Howard look like Jimmie Walker, but he so safe! At minimum, Harley is more oiled. But the clincher is when Harley promises to set her up with her own marriage counseling business. Fuck, man, Brice was happy to see her wait 10-15 years for her dreams to come true!
As with so many, it’s New Orleans that eventually makes a whore of Judith, right?
Asked to accompany Harley to a shareholder’s meeting, Judith makes her way to the Big Easy with temptation just a plane ride away. But first, the meeting goes like gangbusters, and the pair walks through the city as “When the Saints Go Marching In” plays on the soundtrack. Just in case y’all forget they were in the Crescent City. But on the flight back, Harley turns it up a notch and whispers, “I want to make love to you…Right now.” She resists, but remembers that yes, Brice does in fact take her for granted. But she fights a bit more, and we wonder if there’s gonna be rape at 30,000 feet. Shit, this is Tyler Perry, girl, so she got to choose to be bad. She has to fall from her mighty perch. And so they fuck. We don’t see it all right then, and per the flashback, it’s a bit confusing. They fucked on the plane, right? So where’d that big bed come from? No matter, she’s in deep. And it about to get a helluva lot deeper.
Shit, man, Judith’s mama in town?
This is Perryville, so there has to be a religious maniac to set it all right. Judith’s mama is a preacher; a self-righteous, prayer-first madwoman who loves her baby, but knows she’s about to take up arms with Satan. At their first dinner together, Judith is still reeling from her sex with Harley, but does Brice have to make it worse by complaining about never getting a home-cooked meal? Mama won’t hear about none of this. She’s a traditional sort, and a woman needs to take care of her man, praise Jesus. Suddenly, Judith says she has to leave. Brice is watching football, so what does he care? But mama knows. Mama knows. Cut to Judith and Harley in a bath tub. When Judith returns, smelling of sin, mama flips the fuck out. Judith ain’t having it. “You left daddy, he ain’t dead,” she shrieks. Cue slap. Judith runs out again.
Another musical interlude? To show how the characters are dealing with all this?
With typical Tyler Perry subtlety, the lyrics screech forth: “Ahhhhh, I’m in love with another man!” And Judith fucks Harley in a limo. Buys her all kinds of shit at the best stores in town. Brice is slightly suspicious when he spies Judith arriving home at 3am, shit-faced drunk. He peeks out the curtain and doesn’t like what he sees. Afraid of losing her, he asks Brandy about it. But Brandy don’t have to say a word. That face knows pain, brother.
Is this about the time when Brice runs to some crazy ass club and finds Judith in a drunken stupor?
Indeed. Brice pulls Judith away from Harley, drags her outside, and the fireworks really begin. “I feel so dead with you, Brice,” Judith roars, as the tears stream down his face. “You’re a great guy, but I want a phenomenal guy!” Read: I want the guy who can buy me my own business, you broke-ass muthafucka. Brice is crushed, but Judith is firm. Harley her new man, and that’s all she has to say.
Wait, doesn’t Brandy have one doozy of a confession to make? I mean, right as Brice leans in for a kiss?
In a plot twist straight from the files of What the Fuck?, Brandy reveals that she has HIV. And because her violent ex-boyfriend is, dum-dum-dum, HARLEY, that means Judith gonna be HIV positive as well. First, though, Judith got to see the real Harley in action, and that sumbitch knocks mama to the floor. Then he attacks Judith. He’s out of control, the bastard. But shit, man, Judith has AIDS! I had to shut off the DVD for ten minutes to wipe myself down. So Brice runs over to Harley’s, throws him through a window, and beats the holy hell out of him for good measure.
So is that happy ever after? Brice and Judith back together again, only the bitch has AIDS?
No, man, Brice is done. He gets married to a new woman, has a kid, and ends up running that pharmacy. He sees Judith again, only now she’s older, uglier, and there to pick up her prescription for AZT or some shit. So that’s it. Tyler Perry, the gay man who insists he’s just dressing up like a woman again and again and again for the money, has made the most reactionary melodrama since Fatal Attraction. Commit adultery, ladies, and you will die. Get beaten, left bloody in a tub, get AIDS, and die. Temptation leads to sin. Sin leads to a deeper sin. And that deeper sin leads to the grave. What started out as a lark turned into the most depressing movie of the year. And the last time I take a chance on Tyler Perry.
Any other lessons learned?
The five-word phrase that always, ALWAYS leads to adultery? “He’s a very lucky man.”