September 19, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

Tyler Perry‘s melodramas have a tendency to skid not only off the counter but out the kitchen and down the hall, too. The Family That Preys, his first film in six months, is all over the place: It’s a boardroom/family/couples/road-trip story. Kathy Bates plays the head of an Atlanta construction company where Sanaa Lathan is a snooty exec and her husband (Rockmond Dunbar), for maximum class/race sizzle, is a worker grunt. As usual, the villains, like Lathan, are very bad, and the good guys, like Dunbar, are very noble — until they get mad and clock their wives. C+

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