Today, here are two quick mini-reviews for the afternoon. One is of Tyler Perry’s most recent release: Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor and the other is of the Harmony Korine-directed Spring Breakers.
Directed by: Tyler Perry
Starring: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Williams, Robbie Jones, Renée Taylor, Ella Joyce, Brandy Norwood and more.
Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sexuality and drug content
Synopsis: A bold exploration of the intrigue and perils of infidelity, “Tyler Perry’s Temptation” is a compelling love story that dives straight into the heart of obsessive passion. “It’s about a woman who starts to get restless in her relationship and her choice to be with another man has a huge effect on the rest of her life,”.
Review: Tyler Perry, the master of melodrama, brings this tale of a couple who seemed to be born to be in love with one another yet, once married, life, love and the lack thereof bring change. Starting and continuing much like a made-for-Lifetime tv movie, Temptation very quickly pines for the attention of the viewer either through the story’s flashback introduction or the fact that Kim Kardashian doesn’t seem to know her dress size (a fact I’m not complaining about, mind you).
(It’s no secret that I do not enjoy Tyler Perry movies anymore. You may recall my post several months back entitled “Rants of Whine & Reason #1” in which I declared and explained my lack of affinity towards Tyler Perry’s movies. Click the photo to re-visit that fun explanatory post.)
This film still follows the “Tyler Perry formula”, however, it kept my attention more than several of his other movies; and no, not just because of Kim Kardashian (who really did bring out several of the laughs and seemed to enjoy her part).
A “real-life” story is told here of a young couple who, perhaps blinded by love, jumped into life together unprepared for the trials about to be faced. What starts off as a great relationship full of smiles quickly changes through plenty of expected events.
Let me tell you, sometimes, Tyler Perry proves that he does truly understand how the human brain and heart works and he showcases that through this film quite impressively as the story of Judith, drawn by the opportunities and pushed by the inattentiveness of her husband Brice, unfolds. With performances that, for the most part, are solid (given the material) and with something relatable to audiences, emotions of the broadest spectrum flow in this story that can only be described as “real world.”
While the film had my attention for the majority of the time, can I tell you that I was annoyed watching it? And not particularly for the reasons you may think. Why was I annoyed? In watching Temptation (which I watched due to a few requests for reviews, including one from a fellow movie-blogger who loves Tyler Perry’s movies), I found myself annoyed for a few reasons.
- Brandy’s character, I knew, would have meaning, but she isn’t utilized well enough in the first half.
- The “temptation” character spit out so many lines that I’ve heard personal acquaintances use, and, just like when they would say them (lines like “Women can’t handle the type of emotion and love I bring.”) I rolled my eyes everytime he said them on screen. Frustrated with how much of a dog he was trying to get “his” and not truly respecting the marriage that was there. (Actor Robbie Jones did exactly what he needed to do in order to make his character hated by myself…so good job to him there.)
- The twists that came in the end, almost M. Night Shyamalan-ish in style. One was easy enough to pick up from the beginning of the narrative, a couple of others perhaps not as easy to pick up,…but perhaps a bit too dramatic.
- Once again, Tyler Perry gives a story that shows very little hope for True Love.
This story of a young couple who both built love up and let it down had some disappoints, but still I found to be more plausible than expected. They both lost their way and the dangers of forgetting where one comes from truly came out. Reminding me of other “country girl meets the city” story, this “Prodigal daughter” tale carries a message of warning, caution and hope. Even though it also carries a less than par cohesion of storylines, subplots and characters, this “made for Lifetime TV” story still impressed more than other recent Perry pictures.
I felt sad for several…if not almost ALL…of the characters at the end, but remember how I said this film was more “real” than others of Perry’s? Well, life also doesn’t always give the happiest of endings, and Perry shows that to be true.
It’s not the best. It is frustrating (for some of the reasons I mentioned in my Tyler Perry rant), flawed (in storyline and suckerpunch revelations), but not nearly as forgettable. While predictable it still is tolerable, IMO. And that is probably the highest praise Tyler Perry will get from me for a long while. Check it out if you wish…or just wait for OWN or Lifetime to air it.
Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor — SCORE: (2.5/5 stars)
Directed by: Harmony Korine (Gummo, Kids)
Starring: Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez, James Franco and more!
Rating: R -for language, nudity, drug use, violence and more.
Synopsis: Four sexy college girls plan to fund their spring break getaway by burglarizing a fast food shack. But that’s only the beginning. During a night of partying, the girls hit a roadblock when they are arrested on drug charges. Hung over and clad only in bikinis, the girls appear before a judge but are bailed out unexpectedly by Alien (James Franco), an infamous local thug who takes them under his wing and leads them on the wildest spring break trip in history. Rough on the outside but with a soft spot inside, Alien wins over the hearts of the young spring breakers, and leads them on a spring break they never could have imagined.
Review: Harmony Korine presents this story of a group of college girls that make their Spring Break vacation definitely one to never forget. Both conscience and innocence appear to be lost as the girls lose their way attracted by the lure of “freedom” that baits them and reels them into a place deeper than they ever imagined they might go.
It would seem that both Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez are anxious to shed their image of Disney starlets similar to Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan and this film almost helps them to do that, although their casting also adds to the non-believability factor of the tale. Korine’s non-linear story is only impactful and interesting when corn-rowed, teeth-grill toting, Gangsta accent-spouting James Franco is on the screen.
Spring Breakers is full of what you’d expect to see on any MTV special on Spring Break in Cancun: partying, nakedness, booze, drugs, people losing their minds, etc. All of that is just as forgettable to the audience as it is to those experiencing it. What truly does stand out in this film is Franco’s performance. He brings life to an oftentimes slow/boring film with a character that gives Spring Breakers another dimension with his charisma, persona and exotic free-spirited lifestyle. The power he has, or claims to, draws the girls to him and takes them on a darker deeper path towards destruction.
A movie that dares to show the descent of those in a life of crime, drugs and violence and the dangers of being sucked into that world. It also dares to show the dangers of giving in to peer pressure and serves as a warning, if you will, to parents of college freshmen.
Spring Breakers is an okay adventure, but I can think of several other adventures that would have been more interesting to watch for a film entitled as such. A journey into the selfish and aimless. A trainwreck full of sexuality, power and sleaze that one’s eyes can’t turn away from. Very much “Korine-style.” Nothing remained great about the breakers themselves…only about those that they came across until the adventure’s end…for which I was glad when the end came myself.
“Spring Breakers forever.”
Spring Breakers — Score: (2/5 stars)
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer
(Remember, to read this review of mine and over 200 more, check out THE ARCHIVE of movies I have reviewed anytime. Know before you go…or rent…or buy!)