Tyler Perry’s the Family That Preys

Rated 3.0

Writer-director Tyler Perry traces the friendship of two southern matriarchs—a wealthy white woman (Kathy Bates) and a working-class African-American (Alfre Woodard)—and the strains within their respective families. Perry keeps “Madea” in the closet this time, playing it straight as one of Woodard’s sons-in-law. And giving credit where it’s due, he deserves a lot for pairing Bates and Woodard; they’re always worth a long look. Meanwhile, the movie’s glossy sheen (thanks to cinematographer Toyomichi Kurita) and strong supporting cast (including Sanaa Lathan, Taraji P. Henson, Robin Givens, Rockmond Dunbar and Cole Hauser) make it enjoyable most of the way—and cushion the blow when (as a Perry movie must) it sinks into melodrama, “gotcha” soap opera and (sometimes literally) bitch-slapping dialogue.