My wife is known as a very big Madea fan. She’s watched most of the Madea films and often quotes lines at random. So, naturally when I saw I was receiving a Tyler Perry film, I thought I might be able to slide the movie into my wife’s direction. However, Tyler is trying to expand his repertoire into something more than a one-trick pony and I kinda got left holding the bag (or the disc in this case). This should be quite the adventure staring Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard, let us begin.
Today is a very special day. Andrea (played by Sanaa Lathan) is going to marry Chris (played by Rockmond Dunbar). Charlotte Cartwright (played by Kathy Bates) is doing a favor for her friend, Alice Reynolds (played by Alfre Woodard) by picking up the tab and throwing a lavish wedding. At the wedding, Andrea and Chris meet Charlotte’s son, William (played by Cole Hauser) and his wife, Jillian (played by KaDee Strickland).
William promises Chris a job in construction and says he can probably find something for Andrea as well. The two share wedded bliss and we end scene. Four years later, we see a diner called A Wing and a Prayer run by Alice and her daughter, Pam (played by Taraji P. Henson). A homeless man, Nick (played by Sebastian Siegel) comes in and they get some clothes and a place to wash up.
Andrea walks in to grab her child, Christopher (played by Santana Pruitt) and the two sisters share some hostilities before their mom, Alice breaks it up. Elsewhere, Chris and his best friend, Ben (played by Tyler Perry and also Pam’s husband) are doing well at their job but have aspirations of their own to start up a construction company. However, they lack the funds and are trying to figure out ways to drum up capital.
Chris tries to convince Andrea to help due to her affluent position but gets a complete lack of response. Meanwhile, back at the construction firm, William has landed a huge half a billion dollar deal. But according to newly hired COO, Abigail Dexter (played by Robin Givens), the firm will have to front $25 million in order to support the project. As a result, Charlotte decides to sell 10% of her shares to compensate the cost. This leaves her with a minority vote, but with William’s stake, leaves the Cartwrights apparently in control.
Charlotte decides to go on a little trip cross country, but invites her best friend Alice to come with her. They take off West in a gorgeous Cadillac convertible. Back at home, tension is growing between Chris and his wife Andrea. Andrea has something to hide and is getting a lot of money in bonuses on the side. Three hundred thousand in fact which just so happens to be the amount that Chris needs to start up his business. There is more than meets the eye here, and Andrea is keeping something from Chris, whatever could that be?
Like the sands through the hourglass, so are the days of their lives. I’m sorry, I thought I stepped into a soap opera. Thankfully, this is Tyler Perry’s version of a soap opera and it isn’t so bad. The Young and the Restless wishes they could get this kind of star power. Okay, maybe not. Anyhow, we get heavyweights Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard to lead the cast who throw in their usual A performance. The only problem is that they seem to be cast in a different movie, namely Thelma & Louise the sequel.
The whole cross country concept with Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard is more interesting than the soap opera back at home. Rockmond Dunbar plays the likable but slow-witted husband, Sanaa Lathan and Cole Hausen play villains, Ms. Henson plays the sassy sister and Tyler Perry plays well, comic relief. Once the two women come home from their trip, they quickly insert themselves back into the story and bring it to a satisfying conclusion. It just ends up being a bit too hokey and tidy. But at least the ride was fun.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation in 1080p resolution. I was hoping when I was watching a few Lionsgate blu-rays recently that the 1.78 replacement fullscreen for 1.85 actual aspect ratio movies was a one-time thing. Not so much. They are still doing it and along with losing part of your screen, the transfer isn’t all that amazing. It’s competent and has good colors but there isn’t nothing special to praise here. Lionsgate needs to get back to OAR and stop worrying about a tiny bit of black space.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English DTS-HD track (also included are mixes for Dolby Digital 5.1 in Spanish). Sound fares much better and the DTS track does this dialog only justice. (Though I would have dug a little extra oomph for the slap heard around the world) Surround speakers are also used correctly for certain speaking parts and stays clear doing it. Subtitles for English, English SDH and Spanish are included.
- Automatic Trailers: For Colored Girls, Tyler Perry Blu-Ray, Precious, Madea’s Big Happy Family the Play and Why Did I Get Married Too?
- Two Families, Two Legends 9:52: This featurette focuses solely on the work of Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates or Alice and Charlotte. These two had been friends in real life for a long time and the chemistry definitely bled over to the screen. I’m still wishing for these two to get together on a Thelma and Louise picture.
- Preying in the Big Easy 3:35: New Orleans is Tyler Perry’s old stomping ground and it was bittersweet for him to come back here and film one of more interesting scenes in the movie.
- Casting the Family 10:33: This film could easily be described as an ensemble film and this spends a good amount of time talking about the cast and how they brought them all together. Interesting note, Cole Hauser really liked the kissing scene with Sanaa Lathan (how it played into the villain character). I can’t think of too many straight men that wouldn’t.
- Delving into the Diner 6:53: Believe it or not, the Wing and a Prayer Diner was 100% set. They certainly fooled me. Ina Mayhew takes us into the set and describes how she designed it. According to others, this will be a permanent set piece for future movies and possibly even become a real diner at some point.
- Deleted Scenes 8:03: Four deleted scenes are included here. None of them would have made the movie that much different but there is one scene that is a little saucy between William and Andrea. Arguably, the scene where William fires Nick should also been included.
The Family that Preys could have been another Tyler Perry classic, that’s the best way to put it. However, it ended up being about as close as a Tyler Perry movie gets to bombing. Honestly, it is terribly unfortunate given the strong cast that signed up. Kathy Bates and Sanaa Lathan put on some fantastic performances but the script only takes them so far. If nothing else, we possibly get the best slap on camera since Virgil Tibbs took out Larry Gates in In the Heat of the Night.
The disc isn’t bad if Lionsgate could get away from the new foolscreen. The audio is kicking and there are some extras to go through. It’s a good movie and Tyler Perry fans should owe themselves to Netflix if nothing else. However, to the rest of the world, it is a much harder recommendation. Perhaps, they should wait until we get the Family That Preys 2: Charlotte and Alice take on Las Vegas. I’m pretty sure that would involve at least one person tied to the bed with a broken leg or two.