Monday, September 15, 2008


Ma'at and Senora pic by B Free Papparrazi

The Family that Preys: She Said, He said

Last weekend, Tyler Perry’s fifth film from Lionsgate “The Family that Preys” pulled in $17.4M coming in at No. 2 at the Box Office (The Coen Brothers'
Burn After Reading was the surprise winner of the box-office crown with $19.1 million). With a $4 million budget and a shooting schedule of less than 30 days, movie company Lionsgate we are sure are happy that its continuing investment in Perry’s films are making them, a lot of green!

Below are the reviews from OUTTOWN contributor Senora Robinson and OUTTOWN chief contributor Ma’at Atkins of the film:

A wedding scene from "Preys" with Rockmond Dunbar, Sanaa Lathan and Cole Hauser

Senora says:

Alright, I hope you took your motion sickness pills, because we rocked back and forth from one end of this boat to another.

First we have best friends Alice (Alfre Woodard) and Charlotte (Kathy Bates) who had more in common than not. Both were business owners and had a history of indiscretions in each of their families.

Focusing on the family, Perry also exposes the DRAMA that folks try to hide. Perry turns the tables, and we see, Alice’s daughter, Andrea (Sanaa Lathan), the successful, educated, independent Black woman, who marries for the wrong reasons, cause it definitely wasn’t LOVE. Prestigiously educated in her Ivy League school, and successful in ‘Corporate America,’ (How often do we see this woman?) Andrea’s selfish, 'slutty' and greedy ways were revealed through her indiscretions as she tipped out on her loving, blue collar workin' husband Chris (Rockmond Dunbar) with her boss, William Cartright. (Cole Hauser). Oh yeah, William, being the son of her mother’s best friend, was also tipping out on his faithful wife Jillian (Kadee Strickland). Oh what a tangled web we weave, huh??

A sister rivalry scene with Lathan and Taraji Henson

When Chris comes home excited about starting his own business and becoming an entrepreneur, Andrea rained all over his visions and shoots down his dreams, demeaning him for not being successful and articulate such as her boss (a.k.a. her secret lover….). We see how this house definitely wasn’t a home, with her hiding that “earnest” money away from her HUSBAND! One last SideBar: Miss ‘Thang’ must’ve had life all messed up by her thinking that (white)man was going to leave his wife. Hell, if he was willing to kick his mom out of the company, why would she believe that he would actually be true to her??? Hmmmm, not to mention his denying his own son!!


On the other end, we see her sister Pam (Taraji P. Henson), a more ‘grounded’ Sistah, putting the wraps on dinner, greeting her hubby Ben ‘Tyler Perry” as he returns home from work and they discuss the possibility of him going into business for himself, Pam encourages her husband, pats him on the back saying “You can do it.” Unlike her sister, this was a good example of a supportive and loving wife.

Abby, (Robin Givens) is minimal in the whole cluster, but we see what's done in the dark, dose come to light, as she calls Andrea out on her mess.

With this being a Perry flick, we have to see the Christian aspects he tries to present to us. Like how Alice continues to “witness” to her friend, although Charlotte allows bitterness and power to take over her life. Also how she shows compassion, as she continuously took in a homeless man. The biggest factor was forgiveness. Jillian, although hurt and disgraced, stands by her husband’s side. Chris, though he was embarrassed and broken, in the end we see he forgives, and reaches out to help his spouse as well.

This, unlike many of Perry’s flicks includes a bit more of today’s modern taboos: infidelity, lies and greed. But at the same time, the film doesn’t have the gospel performances and “preachin.” I’m sure some of you appreciated it didn’t have.

Actress Robin Givens and Oscar winner Kathy Bates

Despite the constant ‘movement’ and jumping topics in “Preys” overall Tyler Perry did a great job with taking modern day situations, and turmoil, and getting his point across.

He Says:

While doing a thesaurus search on the computer on the word “prey”, the synonyms that came up were “quarry”, “victim” and “kills”. But those synonyms were replaceable if the word were used as a noun . When the word ‘prey on” was looked up it turned into a verb (just like how the word is used in the antonym-LACED film’s title ) the synonyms that came up were “live on”, “live off” “feed on” “hunt” “take advantage.”

After the word search, it was clear that the film’s content was agreeable of what the director Tyler Perry tries to accomplish.

“Preys” deals with two families (one white and one black) headed up by two matriarchs ( Oscar winner Kathy Bates and Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard) who are the best of friends. One, Bates’ character, is part of a rich family in the construction biz in Nawlins and the other one, Woodard’s character, is a working class family. Things go awry when one in Woodard’ s family (actress Sanaa Lathan) marries an employee (actor Rockomnd Dunbar) at her job at the constriction company whose beneath her (he constriction worker, she an executive) while having an affair with its COO, the potential inheritor (actor Cole Hauser) of his mothers company. Meanwhile, the inheritor takes advantage of his power and try to rid his mother off the board of directors in the long run.

Tyler Perry,Henson and Woodard in a living room scene.
Thus, the “preyers” on the victims begins. But of course the ones that prey gets preyed (more like played) as Perry’s; message tries to convey.
Lathan who is a reputable actress, comes across unfortunately one dimensional—cold hearted, bitchy and ruthless and does not have a redeeming factor in the character. Her character was use just as a “preyer” the only time she is being checked on her mess was when Robin Givens’ character, an arch rival at her job, lets her know she wasn’t the only bitch in town. Too bad there weren’t more juicy scenes with these two. It was very catty ala “Dynasty.”

The stories within the “Preys” at first glance appears “zig zaggy” like a stageplay (a trait in all of Perrys’ theater-to-film projects) but luckily each story gels and is congruent to the overall storyline .

Playing the lovey dovey working class couple Henson and Perry

The big flaw was the ideas in the film seems rehashed. The movie could have been dubbed ; The Movie that Preys: On Other Movies. It is apparent Perry chose actors that were akin to his likes of certain films or TV shows. Such as, Woodard and Bates storyline was right out of the “Thelma and Louise” handbook, casting Dunbar as the construction worker was a dead on parody of sorts of the Kenny character he played in the Soul Food series; and lastly using Lathan for the interracial scenes with Hauser was reminiscent of Lathan in the same plot line in the film “Something Blue” (and Woodard plays her mother in that a film as well!).
Overall, this was Perry’s best movie to date and its cast, breathes believability in the script (especially Bates and Woodard who seem almost act without trying). Yet the film would have had a more of impact with Perry’s “I Hope You Dance” message if the focus was more on Woodard and Bates’ background and their story as friends rather than the broadness of its main plotline of preying.

I give it ** ½ stars out of four (****).

What do yawl think? Is you saw the film, hit us up at and we will post your comments on OUTTWOn on a future blog.


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