The thing that made Tyler Perry rich is much in evidence in Tyler Perry's Temptation. It was called Confessions of a Marriage Counselor when he toured with it on stage.
There's no Madea here. But the women are beautiful, serious about clothes, makeup, hair, and church.
Older women are "Wise Counsels," the name of a female-centric church in the movie. And they typically get the funny, sometimes profane, "you-listen-to-me-child" lines.
The men are shirtless, rapacious heels, or sensitive pretty-boy disappointments. That doesn't matter, as these movies are first and foremost sermonettes about relationships, deserving more and eventually getting it.
The women, I mean.
But Temptation is a cautionary tale about wanting what you haven't got. Marriage counselor Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) at the heart of it is young, gorgeous, in a glamorous job with a high-end D.C. dating service. She married her childhood sweetheart (Lance Gross), a serious stiff - looking at goals 10 years off.
And the Internet tycoon (Robbie Jones) who may invest in her business? He radiates money, confidence, and unsafe sex. Meanwhile, her husband might be tempted by a secretive, cowering cashier (Brandy Norwood) at his pharmacy. Ella Joyce, as Judith's preacher-mother, has the sassy, testy, all-wise "Madea" role.
Perry clumsily frames this story as a tale a counselor (Candice Coke) tells a young woman who's thinking of cheating on her husband. The timing of the comic moments is off, and the film drags and drags before reaching a conclusion anybody can see from a mile away.
The quartet of leads is blander than bland. The "Temptation" of the title is a come-on and a false promise. How "tempting" can a PG-13 movie about cheating be?
Tyler Perry's Temptation
*1/2 (Out of four stars)
Written and directed by Tyler Perry. With Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross, Vanessa Williams, Brandy Norwood, Robbie Jones.
Distributed by Lionsgate.
Running time: 1 hour, 51 mins.
Parent's guide: PG-13 (violence, sex, drugs)
Playing at: area theaters