Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Family That Preys: Grade C

The Family that Preys (2008)
Alfre Woodard, Sanaa Lathan, Rockmond Dunbar, Cole Hauser, Kathy Bates, Tyler Perry. Writer-Director Tyler Perry.

I tried this one because I really like Alfre Woodard, and she gives a good performance here as a contemporary woman who inexplicably lives in a house far beyond the means of the owner of a small diner grossing $200 a week. She has daughter (Lathan) married to a construction worker (Dunbar). Bates is head of a wealthy family and CEO of a large construction firm. Her ambitious but inept son (Hauser) schemes to get her job. In a confusing opening, we are to understand that these two families and the two matriarchs especially are longtime friends. How that friendship came about or what sustains it is not revealed but we must accept the premise. The story is classic soap, as Woodard’s ambitious daughter has an affair with the rich and married son of Bates. The middle act is a pointless Thelma and Louise - style road trip for the two older women that allows some moments of acting. In the end, the wayward children get their comeuppance, morality is preserved, and everything is rosy. It’s just dreadful writing, perhaps designed to appeal to afternoon couch potatoes. However, the acting and directing are respectable, production values are high, and sets are very detailed and convincing. It is a visually attractive film, tightly edited and well-paced. It just seems to be content-free.

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