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Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

Lance Gross and Jurnee Smollett-Bell star in "Tyler Perry's "Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor."
The stereotyped characters and windup plot of "Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor" (Lionsgate) put the stale in morality tale.

Only Perry's most devoted fans will likely enjoy this story of Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and her struggle—not, admittedly, an especially heroic one—with adultery.

No one actually listens to Judith. Instead, they talk at her. As in all of Perry's stories, however, there's a stiff moral spine. In this instance, the ethical backbone derives from Judith's churchgoing youth in the rural South, which was overseen by her devoted single mother Sarah (Ella Joyce), a minister.

With a master's degree in counseling and hoping to launch her own marriage-counseling firm, Judith is married to her childhood sweetheart, stalwart but dull Brice (Lance Gross). They live in Washington, where Brice is a pharmacist at a small independent drugstore; Judith is stuck working for a high-end dating service for wealthy men.

Judith is ordered by boss Janice (Vanessa Williams) to cultivate Harley (Robbie Jones), a high-tech multimillionaire Janice hopes will invest in the firm. Harley is unhappy because he says it's tough "to be able to buy whatever you want, and beg for what you need."

He's fascinated that Judith has only ever had one man in her life, and begins a simmering flirtation as they develop a computer program to determine compatibility. He even grills her about her marriage: "Does he challenge you mentally? Does he bring out the best in you?"

When Janice orders Judith to accompany Harley on a business trip to New Orleans—well, there you go. Judith takes on an entirely new personality as a sultry, well-dressed, wine-swilling adulteress.

It's time for the Rev. Sarah to reappear, lecturing all in her path, including Brice. There's the predictable bickering, and when she learns that Brice has faltered in attending worship services, Sarah proclaims, "You need yo' (behind) whipped with the King James Version!"

Moral bearings are righted, as is the pattern in Perry's films, after considerable emotional pain. But it's mostly just talk, talk, talk—slow moving, and not in the least compelling.

The film contains an adultery theme with two nongraphic adulterous encounters, drug use, sexual banter and fleeting crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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