The Family That Preys (Blu-ray)
I don’t get it. I am constantly surprised at the success received by Tyler Perry. I have not seen all his films so maybe he has some gems in there but the few I have seen combine a lack of originality with an abundance of overacting by one dimensional characters. THE FAMILY THAT PREYS fits that same category.
Bear with me as I explain this ensemble of melodramatic drivel. Alice (played by the magnificent Alfre Woodard) owns a diner and has two grown daughters Andrea (Sanaa Lathan) and Pam (Taraji P. Henson) who are both married. She is a best friend with an extremely rich business owner Charlotte Cartwright (Kathy Bates). Charlotte has a son, William (Cole Hauser), who is married and partly owns the business. William and Andrea are having an affair and are clearly our villains. Alice and Charlotte go on a road trip Thelma and Louise style – subtract the final suicide jump. How will the affair get caught and why is there a homeless person in the mix or Robin Givens (who can not stop moving her eye brows) as a sassy intelligent CEO? It will all make sense in a very predictable fashion…or will it? Don’t worry, wrapped up neatly in a final touching montage, the good people win and the bad people lose. Whoops, is that a spoiler? No, it is not. The audience knows all the answers right away when the camera awkwardly shoves itself in the face of any moment meant to be mysteriously unknown to the characters.
I have to hand it to Tyler Perry, he gets a lot of support from some very talented actors. It’s too bad the material is so poor to keep them from shining. It’s not all bad though. Woodard and Bates have some genuine moments. Taraji P. Henson as the supportive daughter and Rockmond Dunbar as a victimized husband are very likeable in their respective roles, showing a lot of charisma. Even Perry performs fairly well as a mild mannered, sweet husband. But I’m not gonna let the actors off scott free here. They mostly put their heart and soul into some outrageous moments that do not warrant heart and soul. It reminds me of that Chris Rock sketch, The Proud Pattersons, on Saturday Night Live where everyday conversation is over dramatic. Some of the performances are absolutely atrocious. Particularly Lathan and Hauser as the one-note villains lacking all subtlety. But I don’t completely blame the bad acting moments on the actors. I blame the directing and the script. The material lacked any real substance or motivation for much of the action.
The most irritating problem is the careless attention to detail, mistakes that should not be seen on any level of filmmaking. At one point, the same extra walking by in the background is used three different times within the same scene. It was like watching a Flintstones cartoon but with more animation. No matter how far they go the same house and rock keep going by in the background. At least change the shirt. Then we get the slap heard across the world. One backhand slap sends a girl over a bar counter. It was like an old western bar fight. I can just imagine Tyler Perry directing her to jump over the counter when she is struck because it definitely would not happen naturally.
The musical score is a poor man’s version of elevator music typically found in soap operas before cutting to commercial. The entire film, minus a few scenes with Bates and Woodard had that Soap Opera feel. All the shots were tight in on faces with a lot of sleeping around being hateful, angry and dramatic without cause. The dialogue is forced explaining exactly the person’s feelings and actions. Are people really this evil? Sorry let me rephrase that question. Are people really that bad at hiding their evilness? Long hateful looks meaning to look mysterious came off blatantly defiant. I need a back-story to establish how some of these people came to be because I don’t buy it.
Maybe I’m being too critical. Maybe THE FAMILY THAT PREYS is not aimed at my demographic. Maybe I’m clueless to how people act. The film does have some sweet moments. But none of this excuses the fact that the plot lacks detail, originality and depth.
Video: (1080p HD 16×9 Widescreen 1.78:1) The quality had the haze of a television set, much like that of a day time soap opera.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The overdramatic pauses are heard loud and clear.
Two Families, Two Legends (9:52): All the actors sing praises about working with Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard.
Preying In the Big Easy (3:35): The filmmakers compliment their time shooting a scene in New Orleans.
Casting The Family (10:33): The actors all compliment and kiss each other’s butts in an obnoxious way. They all say basically the opposite of what my review says.
Delving into the Diner (6:53): A typical fluff piece about creating an authentic looking diner.
Deleted Scenes (8:03): Four terrible scenes rightfully cut from the film. But it does make me wonder if you were to take any of the scenes from the film by their selves how much worse they would appear to be.