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Film / The Family That Preys

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This 2008 movie written, directed and produced by Tyler Perry is about the inner workings of two families—one upper crust and the other working class—that become inextricably linked by scandal. Wealthy socialite Charlotte Cartwright and her dear friend Alice, a working-class woman of high ideals, have enjoyed a lasting friendship throughout many years. Suddenly, their lives become mired in turmoil as their adult children's extramarital affairs, unethical business practices and a dark paternity secret threaten to derail family fortunes and unravel the lives of all involved. There are a lot of spoilers here due to the nature of the movie.


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Tropes:

  • Cool Old Lady: Charlotte isn't a nice woman per se, but she's definitely a badass.
  • Driven to Suicide / Dying As Herself: Charlotte when she takes a deadly combo of pills, her reasons being that she has Early-Onset Alzheimers
  • Evil Matriarch: Played with in the character Charlotte, but ultimately averted.
  • Faux Affably Evil: William. Even with his smooth demeanor and voice, he has no problem trying desperately and failing to push his own mother out of the company she built, cheating on his wife with Andrea for several years without being caught and impregnating them both! and belittling the newly-hired and competent COO just because she's more interested in doing what's best for the company's future than being his yes woman.
  • Foil: Abby and Andrea. Abby worked hard to get where she is and is very loyal and honest to Charlotte. Andrea looks down on everyone and has no qualms with sleeping with William to get what she wants while feeding delusions of grandeur. Abby flat out tells Andrea "It is sisters like you that give us all a bad name."
  • Foreshadowing: At one point, Pam is upset about how greedy Andrea is and how the low amount of profit that Alice took in for the week causes her to say that "she broke her back" trying to keep the business afloat while also supporting Andrea through college. To this, Alice insists that her back is not broken. You would think she's saying that because she's a Determinator through hardship (which she is), but it's also because she is secretly pretty wealthy and at this point now runs the restaurant because she enjoys it.
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    • At one point, Charlotte mentions that she was divorced twice but Alice reminds her that she was divorced three times, to which she says, "Oh, I tried to forget that one." Charlotte's memory problems come up later again when she's trying to get her camera to work, whereupon, after handing it to Alice, she tells her that she has early-onset Alzheimer's.
  • Freudian Excuse: Andrea and Pam's father walked out on his family and left them in dire poverty, resulting in Andrea eventually becoming obsessed with money and social standing.
  • Happily Married: Subverted for both Chris and Jillian; both of them believe that their respective marriages are, but they really aren't. Played straight with Ben and Pam as well as Abigail and her husband.
  • Henpecked Husband: Andrea's husband Chris, and it is not Played for Laughs. She emasculates him at every single opportunity and viciously shoots down any attempts of his to be a loving man towards her. If anything, it doesn't stop short of abusive.
  • Jerkass: William Cartwright, goes without saying. He's cold, distant, greedy, overly ambitious, and a cheater, on top of using people for his own means and trying to get his mother, Charlotte, out of her company. He also doesn't react to the possibility that may have a son with Andrea. To make it worse, apparently, he wants to be like his father, which raises few questions.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Charlotte and Alice, in a rare older lady version.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: William loses control of his company and Andrea finally gets called out for the affair, William leaves her, and she ends up broke.
  • Melodrama
  • Mighty Whitey: Andrea feels this is why Charlotte paid for her wedding.
  • The Mistress: Andrea to William. The former thinks this trope would play into some Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! and would keep her from getting fired but it doesn't, as she's left practically broke by the end of the movie
  • Odd Couple: Charlotte and Alice.
    • Odd Friendship: For the most part, as the Charlotte is more adventurous, taking part in things the latter objects to (i.e drinking, dancing in clubs, and going to strip club) and Alice preferring to live rather simply.
  • Open Secret: Everyone knows about Andrea and William, except Andrea's husband.
  • Pet the Dog: Even with Charlotte openly despising her daughter-in-law Jillian, when the latter comes to her heartbroken over William's affair, she informs her that since he married her without a prenuptial agreement, she could take him to the cleaners if she chooses to divorce him and gives her a yellow rose from her garden. She is immediately paid back by Jillian who informs her about the meeting her husband is planning on having that day to vote her out of the company, a meeting that she had no idea was going to take place.
  • Rags to Riches: Chris, Ben, Pam and Nick. Also Andrea and Alice before the story began, though Angela loses it and Alice is keeping her wealth hidden.
  • Rich Bitch: Andrea, in spades, which is odd as she hasn't started off wealthy.
  • Riches to Rags: Andrea, when William is fired and the affair is ended.
    • Nick before the beginning of the story. As we find out later, he used to work for William as a stockbroker before the latter fired him for some reason.
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Andrea it comes back to bite her later on.
  • Southern Belle: Charlotte is a more modern and older example.
  • Shout-Out: To Driving Miss Daisy. When Charlotte gets a new car, Alice asks where Morgan Freeman is.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Alice, when it's revealed that she has shares in Charlotte's company
  • Stealth Pun: The title is a play on the old saying, "The family that prays together stays together."
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Charlotte. We see her as an efficient businesswoman and a force to be reckoned with, while being very condescending to her daughter-in-law. However, she is also a very good and honest friend to Alice, and the two of them share equal standing in their friendship. Charlotte confides in Alice that she has Alzheimer's and begs her not to let her son put her in a home, and she later gives her daughter-in-law valuable advice on what to do when she finds out about William's affair with Andrea.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Andrea's husband Chris would not believe Andrea was cheating on him until she literally said it to his face, despite the fact that everyone and their mom knew she and William were an item and there were signs everywhere.
  • Took a Level in Badass: William's wife, Jillian, once she finds out about the affair. She shows up and tells Andrea to stay the hell away from her family.
  • Villainous Breakdown: William suffers a minor one towards the end when he gets his just desserts.
  • Wham Line: "Huh. That's the same room his father used to have affairs in."
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Andrea's son. According to Andrea, he's William's son, however, at the end, Chris is shown paying child support to and visiting him, making his paternity unclear.
  • Would Hit a Girl: A rare justified version with Chris.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: As you might expect with the diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's, Charlotte doesn't have much long for this world, however, she goes out on her terms

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