The Family That Preys (2008)

thefamilythatpreys

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Lifelong friends learn to live life while their families go through turbulent issues in this drama from filmmaker Tyler Perry.

Alice Pratt and Charlotte Cartwright have been friends for thirty years. Alice is a simple woman who owns a diner and raises two daughters, Pam and Andrea. The former works with Alice at the diner while the latter works for Charlotte’s company. Andrea’s husband Chris works at the same company as a construction worker as does Pam’s husband Ben. Chris has aspirations of forming his own company, but does not know that his wife is having an affair with Charlotte’s son William, who is married to Jillian.

While Alice and Charlotte decide to go on a cross-country road trip in order to live life, the lives of their families is turned upside down. Charlotte has hired Abby Dexter as the new chief operating officer, a job meant for William. When word gets out of William and Andrea’s affair, Chris confronts both parties and to make matters worse, William is planning to take his own mother out of the corporation. However, Charlotte reveals a secret to Alice that could alter everyone’s lives forever, both personally and professionally.

Back in 2008, when people thought about Tyler Perry, it was all about Madea, his iconic character. However, when in 2007, he adapted his stage play Why Did I Get Married?, which didn’t feature the character and was hailed as a very good film as well as Daddy’s Little Girls, his first original screenplay that was not based on his plays. He follows the latter-up with this original film that is emotionally driven thanks to the performances of its cast.

The film’s central plot of two lifelong friends and the turbulent connection between their families and businesses really delves into a range of emotions between the characters. The focus is on lifelong friends Alice and Charlotte, polar opposites played by Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates. Alice is the simple diner owner who raises two daughters who are themselves polar opposites. Charlotte is the high-driven corporate owner whose son is truly like her.

Woodard and Bates are great to watch as they are proof that opposites attract when it comes to friendships. Their road trip shows exactly how these two are willing to make the most of their friendship by trying different things, from Alice going to a country-western bar to Charlotte getting “baptized” in a lake. The same can’t be said for their kids. If anyone is the most level-headed of the children, it is Taraji P. Henson’s Pam, who only wants Alice to be happy and is happy with her marriage to Ben, played by Perry himself. Rockmond Dunbar’s Chris is a man with big dreams and will go through anything to try to get his business off the ground.

The wrenches in the film are truly Andrea and William, who are nothing more than money-grubbing schemers who will do whatever it takes to get to the top, even if it means total betrayal towards their own families. Having an affair, Andrea plans to eventually leave Chris for William to stay at the top while William plans to have the board retire his mother so he can completely take over the company. Of course, if you have seen any of Perry’s films, chances are you will know how this will turn out for this scheming couple. Kudos goes to Sanaa Lathan and Cole Hauser for playing these two characters with slyness and deceit.

The Family That Preys helps solidify Terry Perry as not only an underrated director, but quite the storyteller. An ensemble cast really drives the emotions in this film about families and friendships.

WFG RATING: A-

Lionsgate presents a Tyler Perry Studios production. Director: Tyler Perry. Producers: Reuben Cannon and Tyler Perry. Writer: Tyler Perry. Cinematography: Toyomichi Kurita. Editing: Maisie Hoy.

Cast: Alfre Woodard, Kathy Bates, Sanaa Lathan, Rockmond Dunbar, Cole Hauser, Taraji P. Henson, Tyler Perry, KaDee Strickland, Robin Givens, Sebastian Siegel

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