Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is happily married to her childhood sweetheart, Brice (Lance Gross). The two are six years into a content, if placid, union. But she tempts fate when she’s lured into a torrid affair with a wealthy client at her firm (Robbie Jones as Harley) and learns the hard way that home is where the heart is.[Review contains spoilers and some seriously adult language.]
For the love of god, I don’t even know where to start. I have so many questions about what in the hell I just saw, but chief among them is this: how on earth did Temptation make it into mainstream theaters instead of being relegated to the Lifetime television channel? Seriously, it would’ve rocked the Lifetime ratings harder than a ‘tween at her first Justin Bieber concert. Alas, the reasoning may forever remain a mystery. (Actually it’s not a mystery. We all know Tyler Perry has seriously deep pockets and can afford to push his agenda. But I’m still reeling with shock, so work with me here.)
I’d say there are no words to describe the horror – yet I must dig deep and deliver for you, dear reader. So here we go…
Trust me, I feel your pain.
Judith and Brice are perfect for each other. We know this because we watch them, in a flashback, meeting at six-years old and immediately hitting it off. Their love is unshakeable and neither one seems interested in exploring beyond the cocoon they created in elementary school.
Judith thinks nothing of this – she’s perfectly happy with her tranquil, albeit mildly boring, life. The only ripple in her seemingly perfect existence is her dissatisfaction with her career. Judith is dying to open her own practice and become a marriage counselor. Instead, somehow, she helps advise potential suitors at a high-end dating service. When lamenting to Brice that she’s not where she wants to be, and is desperately yearning to start her own business, Brice responds with, “Dang, baby. We’re at least ten to fifteen years away from being established enough for you to do that.” Huh? So, potentially, Judith will be anywhere from 36 to 41-years old before her husband will allow her to start her desired career? Also, I’m completely confused by Brice’s poverty mentality. Even though Judith isn’t thrilled with her job, she still has a good one. And Brice is the lead pharmacist at a mom & pop convenience store. It’s not as if they’re homeless.
First, we’re going to indulge in some missionary-style lovin’. Then you’re gonna make me dinner.
But thank god for Judith’s job – it’s what allows the audience to enjoy both Vanessa Williams as Janice, Judith’s boss (who employs some kind of insane French accent until the end of the film), and Kim Kardashian as Judith’s bitchy coworker, Ava. All I can say is Vanessa must’ve owed Tyler Perry a massive favor, and I hope her debt has now been paid in full.
Kim Kardashian basically plays herself, to the surprise of no one. She harasses her coworker about her clothing, shaming the gorgeous Judith about her modest wardrobe. She stalks around in bandage dresses and, when questioned by Judith if she can even breathe, haughtily responds, “You don’t breathe in Herve.” She also threatens to throw herself out of a window when Judith shows up wearing flats (with gold tassels!) to work one day. So, she’s basically acting the same condescending way she treats her sisters on her reality show, except she’s collecting a paycheck from Very Perry Enterprises instead of the E! Channel.
Could I please go one day without you throwing shade on my outfit?
One day at work, while Judith quietly stuffs her feelings under a shabby cardigan, this super hot dude sweeps in outta nowhere and rocks Judith’s simple world. Enter Robbie Jones as Harley, the social media millionaire who’s just one rung below Mark Zuckerberg. He’s not looking to Janice & Co. for their matchmaking services. Nope, not this wily stud. Instead he’s there to invest in Janice’s company, hoping to help take dating for the wealthy to a global level. This possible venture allows him to spend countless hours with Judith, versus Janice, because we all know everyone consults a therapist when making a major business decision. (Actually that wouldn’t be a bad requirement. Dick Cheney and Halliburton, I’m looking at you.)
Richer than rich Harley is naturally fixated on the one thing he can’t have – which happens to be the very married Judith. He manages to be the perfect gentleman, while simultaneously pointing out to Judith all that her life lacks. She resists his charms, until one day she just can’t. She throws caution to the wind and begins screwing Harley with wild abandon. (Not that the audience will see much of the love scenes, even though the frickin’ movie is supposed to be about the lead character giving into temptation. But whatever.) The timing of Judith’s fall from grace, and subsequent slutty spiral, aligns with requesting a makeover from Kim Kardashian/Ava. A coincidence? I think not!
Steamy love scene? Yes. Visible love scene? Not so much.
What’s Brice doing during all of this? I’m glad you asked! When he’s not watching a football game (which must be on some kind of loop because it appears to be on all the time, even in the wee hours of the morning in which his wife still hasn’t returned to the marital bed), he’s chastely hanging out at the pharmacy with his racist/homophobic coworker (Renee Taylor as Chapman) and their new, mysterious hire (pop star Brandy Norwood as Melinda).
Melinda is cagey, nervous and has big secret. She runs back and forth from work wearing a hood and, immediately upon entering her home, grabs a baseball bat while twirling around her apartment. Could she be on the run from an abusive ex? Yes, yes she could. Wouldn’t it be like, so weird, if Melinda’s ex and Judith’s current fling were the same man? That wouldn’t be an obvious plot twist anyone with two brain cells could see from a mile away…
Meanwhile, the gracious Harley nabs his prey and suddenly turns dominant and cruel. Wow, what a sudden behavioral shift! Judith sticks it out, even as Harley introduces her to drugs and harem of hos at an S&M bar in downtown DC. Of course he does! Apparently he was able to keep his crazy under wraps, but once they had intercourse the jig was up. Jekyll, meet Hyde.
I’m not sure why Harley couldn’t have remained the suave gentleman to Judith’s blossoming womanhood. I mean, at this point, Brice and Judith have known each other for twenty years. Maybe they just grew apart and Harley is now a better match for who Judith hopes to become. But that’s not feasible in Tyler Perry’s world. Not when there is a lesson to be learned!
Brice and Brandy/Melinda pout while their exes are off splitting the sheets.
And the lesson is this: married ladies, if you have even the slightest tingling in your vaginal area for another man SHUT IT DOWN. It is not only important in saving your love, this piece of advice will SAVE YOUR LIFE. If you are bored in your marriage, I implore you to work it out at all costs, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Temptation it’s that stray dick will kill you.
Did your husband forget your birthday – not “just” once, but two years in a row (like Brice did to Judith)? Suck it up girlfriend; be happy that you and your lady parts are coveted under the contract of monogamy. Perhaps your husband expects you to cook all of his meals (like Brice did of Judith)? Honey, this might not be the Fifties – but please try to remember this is your wifely duty. You and your vagina should rejoice in that casserole. Cooking that casserole is deeply satisfying and should cover all your needs.
Also, please be aware that one cannot go wagging one’s pussy at every guy one meets. Instead pick a singular penis, preferably when you’re in grade school, and stick with it. We all know it’s best to choose a life partner before we’re even in double digits, wait until marriage to consummate this unwavering love, and then never want for anything else, ever again. Works every time.[Big spoiler] Judith gets her comeuppance big time when Harley not only savagely beats her; he also infects her with HIV. Somehow Harley, a fit jogging enthusiast, is HIV positive and has more than enough energy to spread it around (Melinda also has the virus).
Brice is able to save Judith from Harley’s whaling fists, but he can’t save her from the sickness that will soon consume her. The end of the film has a rapidly aging Judith shuffling into the pharmacy to collect her medication from Brice, while Brice’s new, healthy wife and son come bearing down behind Judith to kiss and hug him. Judith embraces her sad turn with nobility. She deserves it, after all; so she stoically nods at Brice as she limps away to attend a church service with her mother. Hope that wild fling was worth it, lady, because you literally will not be allowed to fuck again.
From the Tyler Perry School of Sex Ed.
If you commit adultery, you will die. And if you bother to see this film, you’ll be tempted to stab yourself in the thigh. Hey, I made a rhyme!
Take a Drink: every time Brice plumps the pillows and lights candles in anticipation of some quality lovemaking within the safe confines of his and Judith’s one-bedroom apartment.
Take a Drink: every time Kim K makes a comment about Judith’s peasant wardrobe.
Take a Drink: every time Judith upgrades a piece of said wardrobe as she makes her transition from innocent waif to hedonistic ho-bag.
Take a Drink: every time Harley employs a cheesy line to hook Judith. (My personal favorite is, “It’s very sexy how slow you’re breathing.” Talk about a panty-dropper. Also, note to self, make sure to breath rapidly if ever meeting Tyler Perry.)
Take a Drink: every time Judith’s mother conducts a religious service in her living room to rid her daughter of the Devil; because that is not at all creepy, or in any way reminiscent of a scene from Rosemary’s Baby.
Take a Drink: every time you think you see Harley and Judith snorting cocaine. (The director decided to imply, instead actually show, the drug use. There’s nothing like having to guess at a major plot point.)
Did I stick around for the bitter end of the credits? As Vanessa Williams might be tempted to say, “Bitch, please.”
Meanwhile, I did see all the fabulous previews, including an upcoming summer release of Tyler Perry Presents Peeples. Tag, MovieBoozer staff. Not it!