So, having attained his prize, Harley stands revealed as a sadistic bully luring Judith into a decadent underworld of very bad behavior (evidenced by a throbbing techno rave party that’s like Perry’s answer to the masked ball from “Eyes Wide Shut”).
In the interest of padding the running time to nearly a full two hours, Perry also adds a second woman-in-distress subplot involving a mysterious new pharmacy assistant (Brandy Norwood) on the run from something — or someone — in her troubled past.
Judith, meanwhile, holds one of the more fanciful jobs in recent movie memory: “inhouse therapist” for Janice (Vanessa Williams), a high-end matchmaker with a Pepe Le Pew accent and a devoted minion (Kim Kardashian) whose primary responsibility seems to be castigating Judith for her sensible shoes and discount-store couture. ”) As if credibility were not already stretched to the breaking point, it soon emerges that, for all her supposed insight into relationship compatibility, Judith is a nice Christian girl who’s never been with any man except Brice.
Which makes her the perfect catnip for Harley (Robbie Jones), a social-media billionaire who comes calling ostensibly to invest in Janice’s company, but quickly makes a bigger bid to get Judith into the sack.
From there, “Temptation” takes a sharp right turn toward the smugly moralistic.
The devil is in the details — or perhaps under the bed sheets — in “Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor,” a ludicrous marital drama-cum-morality play from contemporary black cinema’s most prolific multihyphenate.
Significantly lacking in star wattage (including Perry’s own), this sluggish, relentlessly downbeat portrait of a young couple in crisis should play well to Perry’s fanbase, but won’t draw anywhere near Madea-sized crowds at a very competitive Easter box office.
Like many of Perry’s films, this one originated as a stage play, though judging from the evidence onscreen, it’s hard to imagine it playing very far outside the dinner-theater circuit.
Framed as the titular “confession,” related by a marriage counselor to her latest client, “Temptation” introduces childhood sweethearts Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Brice (Lance Gross), married for several years and living in Washington, D.
Harley isn’t just a snake in Judith’s middle-class Eden.
With his Internet billions, he promises to set her up in the private marriage counseling practice she’s always dreamed of, proves chivalrous (nearly pummeling a cyclist who accidentally runs into Judith in a park) where Brice is cowardly, takes her for rides in his Ferrari and Rolls, and eventually entreats her on to his private plane — a one-way ticket to the Mile High Club.
But fret not: Like a subsequent bathroom tryst cloaked in enough steam for a three-alarm blaze, this encounter has been skillfully designed not to offend Perry’s churchgoing base or endanger his PG-13 rating.
Love of money is the root of all evil, don’t we know, because the Bible says so and because the notion of Judith being tempted by a rich guy who isn’t also a total asshole would be far too complex for Perry’s reductive universe.