Talk about a soap opera or melodrama, Tyler Perry’s “The Family that Preys” gets you so wrapped up in the lives of his characters that you can’t wait until the devil gets his due…sorta speak.
Just like life, there’s a lot going on in this story about two very different families, one black the other white, connected by two women who formed a bond through an adverse situation years before anything dark or negative entered the picture.
Academy Award®-nominee Alfre Woodard (“Something New”), is superb as Alice Pratt, the god-fearing mother of two daughters; Taraji Henson (“Hustle and Flow”), who stars as Pam, a loving and supportive woman, married to a man (Tyler Perry), who operates on fear, not willing to take any chances for fear of loosing what took him so long to achieve. Sanaa Lathan (“Something New”), stars as Andrea, a woman who knows exactly what she wants, how she wants to live, and what to do to get it. She’s married to Chris played by Rockmond Dunbar (“Kiss Kiss, Bang, Bang”), a simple, trusting and loyal man who has big dreams and not a lot of cash. But he’s a hard worker, a construction worker at a company that employs both he and his wife and owned by wealthy socialite Charlotte Cartwright played by Academy Award®-winner Kathy Bates (“Failure to Launch”), who is also Alice Pratt’s best friend.
Charlotte Cartwright is care-free and living life just the way she wants to, or so it appears on the surface. She married into a family of barracudas and she has some pretty nasty business habits herself. Her son William, played by Cole Hauser (‘Paparazzi”), is conniving, cold-hearted, and would sell his own mother’s soul to make or hold a buck. And Charlotte knows it. His marriage to Jillian played by Kadee Strictland (“American Gangster”), which Charlotte never approved of because of her ‘white trash’ status, is a sham so he’s always on the lookout for ‘greener pastures’ and he finds it with Andrea.
Now if that’s not enough, we’re introduced to Abby, a black, high-powered woman played beautifully by Robin Givens (“Flip the Script”), who is brought in to head the company against the wishes of Charlotte’s son who just knew the job was his. Abby, peeps what’s happening and has a lot of fun connecting the dots, and doesn’t hesitate in making all the right moves.
With all the madness brewing around them, Charlotte and Alice decide to go on a road-trip. With Alice being overly cautious, Charlotte raring to live it up, the two make an interesting odd couple until something tragic is revealed.
But the bad news didn’t stop the drama, it only heightened it. When all hell breaks loose, it becomes a game of cat and mouse, revelations and payback.
It’s amazing how the audience gets caught up in the lies, and loves of this amazing cast of characters. There were groans, clapping, and laughter spilling out over the theater as the individual stories unfold.
Tyler Perry’s “The Family that Preys” is an outstanding story of black pride, ambition, and love and ‘back-room’ deals that only Perry would have the confidence to bring to the silver screen. This film harkens back to the days of the 1940s and ’50s when melodramas such as Joan Crawford’s “Harriet Craig” or Fannie Hurst’s “Back Street” hit the silver screen. Both dealt with women who lied, carried out outrageous schemes or who were involved in extra-marital affairs.
This is his sixth film, and because he knows his audience, he can give us juicy stories, with outstanding cast members be they black, white or brown. He’s growing as a filmmaker and he’s apparently now taking his filmmaking career to another level.
Tyler Perry’s “The Family that Preys” opens Friday, Sept.12. By the way, it’s Perry’s birthday weekend. Make it a point to see the movie and give him a birthday surprise.
– Gail Choice is an independent writer/producer/director. Contact her at gailchoice@strictlyhollywood.com.