Welcome back to another movie review as we have reached the tail end of Black History Month. Tyler Perry’s Mea Culpa is an erotic legal thriller that is supposed to be a guilty pleasure movie similar to his 2013 film Confessions of A Marriage Counselor. This film is guilty—for all the other wrong reasons. In terms of screenplay, urgency, or any sense of real-world logic; It’s a frustrating movie. Let’s talk about this hilarious disaster piece that is not a representation of Black women lawyers everywhere.

Distributed by Netflix/Tyler Perry Studios

Mea Harper (Kelly Rowland), a stellar defense attorney in Chicago takes up a case involving famous local artist Zyair Malloy (Trevante Rhodes). Malloy is accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend, and people protest to have his work taken down. Harper does her best to find any contradictory evidence in Malloy’s case before the prosecution does. However, Malloy has other seductive plans for Mea, and she ends up crossing a line she might not return from.

Distributed by Netflix/Tyler Perry Studios

Okay…This is terrible. It feels like a generic Tyler Perry setup from many other films/TV shows/plays. Mea is in a dysfunctional relationship with her anesthesiologist husband Kal (Sean Sagar) who is fired from the job for smoking and drinking. But he tries to be ‘the man of the house’ and interfering in Mea’s decision-making when he should be applying for jobs online. It seems Perry can’t understand how real-life couples behave. It doesn’t have to be forcefully complicated compared to how he writes couples in his stories. Even with Kal’s brother Ray (Nick Sagar, yes, they are blood-related in real life), who is the prosecutor for the case and running for mayor, he’s not adhering to real-life logic either. He even lets it know for the upcoming trial that this is between the family. Which is something any lawyer with any extended family should keep private. 

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Distributed by Netflix/Tyler Perry Studios

Rowland does what she can with the material she’s been given. But her character Mea becomes progressively incompetent. It does not make any sense to keep coming to Malloy’s apartment alone, knowing that Malloy is allegedly a murderer; despite bringing her private investigator Jimmy (RonReco Lee) in one scene. She makes the worst decision to sleep with her client because Kal is possibly cheating on her (due to Jimmy’s coincidental timing of showing Mea’s husband committing infidelity) ,and he’s a bum. She doesn’t even try to just stay focused on the job and instead gets easily seduced by Malloy.

Distributed by Netflix/Tyler Perry Studios

Speaking of Malloy, he is also not a good character either. Rhodes of Moonlight fame is also trying to do his best. But Perry’s screenwriting of Malloy is generic, and at times comical. He doesn’t answer Mea’s questions directly when she’s trying to help his case. He’s a sadist who doesn’t even want to focus on clearing his case, but more concentrated on the women he does his business with. He even has his X-rated sex club underneath the parking deck of his apartment. Short and to the point, everything that happens to him and Mea is very incompetent. 

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Distributed by Netflix/Tyler Perry Studios

Tyler Perry’s Mea Culpa is a brain fart of an erotic legal thriller that contains more unintentional laughs than it does to excite Perry fans. Rowland and Rhodes are not bad actors, and it’s the screenwriting that’s making them look bad. Rowland has her Lifetime Christmas movie series starting with Merry Liddle Christmas, and she was a decent actress. Rhodes, as mentioned, was in A24 2016’s Academy Award-winning Best Picture film Moonlight, and he was great as adult Chiron aka Black. Perry decides to dumb them down to some of his screenwriting stereotypes audiences have seen in his other works over and over again. There is an M Night Shyamalan-esque twist, but it’s a twist people will see coming, and it’s not as shocking at all. Perry has cemented himself as one of the greatest success stories in Black Hollywood, with the establishment of Tyler Perry Studios in 2006. After the abysmal 2020 film A Fall from Grace, and the now-streaming Netflix film, Perry’s “work ethic” needs to be delegated to a screenwriter who can write real people in real situations. Not silly situations that feel so far removed from reality. 

Rating: 1/5

 

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