The Family That Preys

"Weak"

The Family That Preys Review


Tyler Perry is trying. Instead of sticking exclusively to the urban morality plays that made him a certified superstar, he appears to be broadening his niche-based appeal. And he's doing so by taking risks both in and outside the medium. Sure, most of his movies have been nothing more than mere translations of his theatrical works, but efforts like Daddy's Little Girls, and now The Family That Preys, show an artist who is at least endeavoring to expand his horizons.

Alice Pratt (Alfre Woodard) and Charlotte Cartwright (Kathy Bates) have been friends for over 30 years. The former runs a small diner. The latter is the CEO of a local construction company. Alice has two daughters -- snooty career gal Andrea (Sanaa Lathan) and honest, hardworking Pam (Taraji P. Henson). Charlotte has a conniving son named William (Cole Hauser) who cheats on his wife Jillian (Kadee Strickland). After marrying the decent Chris (Rockmond Dunbar), Andrea begins a torrid affair with her boss -- who happens to be William. He wants to take over for his aging mother, believing it is his birthright. In the meantime, a new employee (Robin Givens) stirs things up for the adulterous duo. Soon, all the simmering secrets in the Pratt and Cartwright households will be out in the open.

The key to any Tyler Perry film is a strict moral compass, and The Family That Preys has its needle settled solidly on "E" -- as in "exaggerated." Unlike many of his previous films, this movie has so much plot it almost crumbles under the weight of all the convolutions and complexities. There's betrayal, terminal illness, paternity, sibling rivalry, backstabbing business deals, and plenty of interpersonal squabbles. Perry clearly wants to mimic the sizzling Southern Gothics of the old school cinematic sudser, making the subterfuge in the boardroom as well as the bedroom ripe with dishonesty, greed, and all manner of marital hysterics. Of course, this means The Family That Preys has to give in to its narrative needs. Just as some interesting character depth is being discovered, it's time to tie up another loose plot thread.

All the standard Perry-isms are present and ready to placate the fanbase: Hard work trumps haughty entitlement; God loves those who proclaim his power; women are the broken backbone of society; men are dogs, pigs, or some equally scurrilous combination of the same. It's all heroes and villains, good guys showing their frequent flaws while the bad ones beg for their eventual (and always audience-friendly) comeuppance. The involvement of accomplished actors like Bates and Woodard definitely up his game, but Perry still suffers from a clear case of mega-melodramatics, even for a soap opera. Simple situations are turned into kitchen sink calamities, all so that our filmmaker can favor us with more "Jesus Saves" bon mots.

If this sounds cynical, it's because Perry is usually better than this. His stage work, though clearly conceived as raucous revivals, has an energy and a drive that's hard to recreate onscreen. Oddly enough, he doesn't try. Even when dealing with material taken directly from his theatrical revues, Perry has to busy things up with underdeveloped subplots and conflicting character motivation. It's clear he is starting to understand the differences between play and screenwriting, and a cast like this can deliver little except excellence. To call The Family That Preys a transitional effort would be accurate and fair. Perry is indeed trying. To consider it a total triumph however would be foolish.

We're down to one last light, now will you replace some bulbs?



The Family That Preys

Facts and Figures

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th September 2008

Box Office USA: $37.0M

Distributed by: Lionsgate

Production compaines: Lions Gate Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Fresh: 21 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 5.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Charlotte Cartwright, as Alice Pratt, as Ben, as Andrea, as Chris, as Jillian Cartwright, as William Cartwright, Taraji P. Henson as Pam, as Abby

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

With virtually the same blend of wit and idiocy as the 2001 original, this fashion-scene...

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) reteams with Tilda Swinton for this fresh, tricky...

Deadpool Movie Review

Deadpool Movie Review

Both the filmmakers and the characters on-screen are so pleased with themselves that this might...

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

Advertisement
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.