American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Tyler Perry's Temptation" is ostensibly a serious-minded offering from the one-man filmmaking empire — it contains nothing in the way of broad slapstick and his infamous Madea character is nowhere to be seen — but you wouldn't know that based on the reaction that it got from the audience that I saw it with. Even though they were presumably there because of a genuine interest in seeing it and not simply out of professional obligation, the combination of shameless melodramatics and ham-fisted moralizing inspired more laughs from that audience than most straightforward comedies of recent vintage.
I can't say that I blame them because the film is flat-out ludicrous from beginning to end. And while it might not be Perry's most excruciating cinematic effort date — especially not in a world where "Madea Goes to Jail" is allowed to exist — it is definitely wretched enough to be in the running for that dishonor.
Take one of those cheesy direct-to-video erotic thrillers from the early '90s that kept Tanya Roberts and Shannon Tweed in cigarette money, remove virtually all the erotic content and replace it with hard-core preachiness and a storyline that fans of "Fifty Shades of Grey" would find to be trite and poorly developed and you have "Tyler Perry's Temptation," which sounds like the name of a designer fragrance and which does indeed stink.
Our heroine is Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a nice young country girl who marries childhood sweetheart Brice (Lance Gross) and moves away with him to the big, bad world of Washington, D.C., with the dream of one day becoming a marriage counsellor. For the time being, she is working for a high-end dating service and has designed a compatibility quiz that, to hear everyone talk about it, is perhaps the single most revolutionary document to come along in the personal relationship industry since the legendary Massey Pre-Nup.