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Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for thematic material, sexual references and brief violence.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy, Drama
1 hr. 51 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 12, 2008 (2,000 theaters)
DVD release: January 13, 2009
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Relevant Issues
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Women of the Bible

Featuring: Alfre Woodard
Sanaa Lathan
Rockmond Dunbar
KaDee Strickland
Cole Hauser
Taraji P. Henson
Robin Givens
Tyler Perry
Kathy Bates
See all »
Director: Tyler Perry
Producer: Roger M. Bobb, Karen Gorodetzky, Michael Paseornek, Tyler Perry
Distributor: Lionsgate

“Business is like family. Keep your affairs in order.”

By just simply reading the film’s title, a viewer might believe that Tyler Perry’s newest film takes a raw look into the impending disasters of extramarital affairs. While the film does offer a look into how such a selfish act can be damaging, this glimpse, instead, renders itself into a generic soap opera.

The film begins with the wedding of Andrea (Sanaa Lathan) and her soon-to-be husband Chris (Rockmond Dunbar). Chris is obviously in love with his wife and only briefly has cold feet. While across the hall, Andrea selfishly complains about having to wear her mother’s wedding dress and is against the woman who is paying for her wedding.

Alice (Alfre Woodard) is Andrea’s mother and a humble Christian. For over thirty years the hard-working mother has been good friends with Charlotte (Kathy Bates), a rich Southern business woman. Charlotte was happy to pay for Andrea’s wedding, since her own son, William Cartwright, eloped.

At the wedding, there is much tension brewing between Charlotte and her son, William. It quickly becomes apparent that a loving mother-son bond does not exist. All is forgotten when William lustfully sets his eyes on Andrea. He offers her an accounting job after she graduates. The story then forwards four years when Andrea is now a successful accountant and selfishly wants out of her marriage. Alice and Charlotte go on a road trip together.

Written and directed by Tyler Perry, “A Family that Preys” stars a talented cast. Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard have amazing chemistry together. Their friendship scenes are convincingly portrayed, and their friendship seems genuine. While the entire cast helped with the film, a strong script was missing.

Right from the beginning, an affair is obvious. Andrea’s cold to her husband, completely sadistic in how she speaks to him, and stays late in the office. She even calls her husband ‘stupid’ and repeatedly tells him that he will never be like William Cartwright. It seems as if Perry wanted to see how much the audience could take of Andrea’s condemnation of Chris. These signs and even more obviousness are thrown right in front of Chris. However, he still somehow remains oblivious to his wife’s infidelities. Even when Andrea sneaks out of a party to secretly meet with Cartwright, Chris never second guesses. This repetition becomes annoyin,g as it is continuously recycled.

Offensive Content

This film had relatively moderate cursing. I counted about 12 uses of the milder ones. There are no sex scenes and kisses are tastefully done. The affairs occur off screen (except for a brief kiss scene). I do not advise younger children see this movie, since the entire film has an adult theme of marriage and adultery. The way Andrea speaks to her husband would not be ideal for any young children to learn from.

During their road trip, Charlotte tries to influence Alice into drinking at a country bar. She also pushes her into going into a male strip club. However, I found it so awesome and refreshing that in the first temptation Alice only drinks water, while Charlotte drinks tequila. While they are in the male strip club, Alice rebukes the men with holy water and the Bible. This scene was humorously done. The men were only shown shirtless.

When Chris finally does find out about the affair, he asks Andrea how she could do such a thing. The camera zooms in when she proudly states that Cartwright is her man. Out of nowhere, Chris violently backhands her until she falls over a counter. The audience in the theatre applauded. This is nothing to be celebrated. Did she treat her husband viciously? Yes, she did. By the world’s standards did she deserve to get slapped? It seems so, judging from the theatre’s reaction. However, Paul did write “for the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”

It often saddens me on how people who do not personally know Christ as their Savior will naively assume that Christianity is a violent religion or a religion that opposes women. When, in fact, Christianity is the most loving. God’s commandment for how married couples should treat one another would be the best foundation for any loving, successful marriage. In Ephesians 5, Paul writes a great deal on how husbands and wives should treat each other. Firstly, God commands married couples to “submit to one another out of the reverence of Christ.” Wives should “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

He also commands husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Since Christ was the perfect example of love. We all should follow His example, not Hollywood’s glorification of domestic abuse.

The movie does have some good Christian themes. The character of Alice is one of the best examples of a Christian woman I have seen on the big screen. I loved how she was not hypocritical, condemning or a radical. Instead she was loyal, compassionate, and honest. The film’s biggest downfall was that it focused too much on the negative relationships and only gave the audience a brief view of the results. I do not personally recommend the film.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I found myself laughing throughout the movie. I think it took on the sensitive subject of marital affairs tastefully. Because of the plot, this is not a movie for children, but I recommend it for adults. Alice was a good example of a Christian. She didn't approve of or participate in what her friend was doing, and yet it was obvious that she cared for her and was there for her. I think the movie clearly showed the joy and peace Alice had because of her faith and the sadness and emptiness that Charlotte had without it. The movie wasn't perfect—I would have liked to see Chris rise above his pain instead of hitting his unfaithful wife, and the forced baptism was a bit odd. But overall, it was one of the best movies I've seen in awhile.

My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Mary, age 48
PositiveKathy Bates is my favorite actress, and she did not disappoint me here either. I cried at the end. Probably more of a chick flick. Lots of emotions, and the ending is where I cried. It doesn't pay to be mean or greedy. I would see it again with my 22 yr. old daughter. It would be nice if more movies like this came out. There were just a few scenes that could be considered a bit offensive, although they were not overdone.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Nancy Ayala, age 52
Positive—This is not a comedy—not by any stretch of the imagination. Although a bit slow at first, it builds up to a hard-hitting drama about family conflicts, adultery, betrayal and other ugly actions by family members against their relatives or spouses. The performances by Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard as long time friends are very fine and lend much to the movie. I hope the Christian thematic elements touch the hearts of the non-Christians who see this movie. Fairly interesting. Too bad it started out so slowly.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Positive—Hubby and I saw this movie. It's enjoyable,with many lessons. Perry does a great job of introducing you to all of the characters and you'll grow to love some and want to slap others,well at least one! The friendship between Alice and Charlotte,one who is black and the other white,is very special and charming to watch… at times funny.

Tyler Perry shows one marriage that is weak, but contrasts it with another in which the couple is very close. He plays the part of a construction worker who has a very close relationship with his wife and their time on the screen is “sweet.” He also talks to her about being content with what they have and not getting into debt again…Know anyone that could use that lesson?? In viewing the OtheR couple, you learn how hurtful the wrong words can be,not to mention actions.

You also meet Alice's two daughters,one which helps her in a restaurant and is very appreciative of all her mom's done for her and another who is selfish and doesn't appreciate anything.

The movie has a few cuss words,not ones that strongly offended me. No sex,or sensual kissing (even though in one scene someone is kissing someone other than their spouse). In the scene where the guy finds out his wife is having sex with her boss,he cusses and hits her. Teen's see enough violence against women and I wish that had been left out or the camera not shown it. That said, I think any 13+, girl or guy,married or single,should see and would enjoy this movie. p.s.—This movie rightfully shows that sin has it's consequences.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Ann, age 50 (USA)




Comments from young people