Mea Culpa Parent Guide
Unbelievably plotted and full of negative content, this film fails on all levels.
Parent Movie Review
Mea Harper (Kelly Rowland) is a successful defense attorney with a great track record and solid reputation. But her career success hasn’t translated to her personal life: her marriage to Kal (Sean Sagar) is falling apart, thanks to his overbearing mother (Kerry O’Malley), his recent lay off at work, and his stint in rehab for an addiction to pharmaceuticals.
While under stress from her troubled marriage and finances, Mea is approached by Zyair Malloy (Trevante Rhodes), an artist accused of brutally murdering his girlfriend. He’s heard that Mea is the best and wants her to represent him.
Despite her in-laws’ objections, Mea decides to take the case and starts spending time with the womanizing Zyair to try to piece together the story of what happened. But as their association deepens, the professional lines between them begin to blur, and Mea finds herself drawn to the potentially dangerous and seductive artist.
I have nothing but respect for movies that know they’re bad; that are trying to be silly and have no pretensions. What confuses me about Mea Culpa is that I cannot for the life of me determine if it was made in all sincerity or tongue in cheek. It’s too ridiculous to be taken seriously but takes itself too seriously to be funny. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed a few times, but I don’t think that was intended. The level of melodrama hits daytime soap opera heights (or depths, depending on your perspective), with many of the supporting cast lacking the acting skills to pull it off.
The story itself starts out acceptably. “Lawyer gets too involved with her client” is not the worst idea and piling on the family drama at least adds some layers. Unfortunately, the writers lack direction, so the third act quickly dissolves into confusing chaos with plot holes the size of a semi-trailer. The absence of chemistry between Rowland and Rhodes also destroys the seduction plot, as Mea’s attraction to her client is incomprehensible. He’s a good-looking guy, don’t get me wrong, but the complete lack of sparks makes their relationship feel inauthentic. It’s also difficult to swallow Mea’s behavior when it is totally counter-intuitive to most women’s self-preservation instincts.
Not only is Mea Culpa simply a bad film, but the hard Restricted rating is sure to turn off many potential viewers. The sex scenes are so explicit they are almost pornographic, while also managing to be incredibly unsexy. That’s an achievement, albeit a negative one, I’ll give it that. Abundant profanity, violence, and some substance use round out the negative content – but, if you’re familiar with Tyler Perry’s work this isn’t a surprise. In all seriousness I do not recommend this movie to anyone. It’s guilty of being bad and no lawyer can save it.
Directed by Tyler Perry. Starring Kelly Rowland, Trevante Rhodes, Sean Sagar. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release February 23, 2024. Updated February 23, 2024
Rating & Content Info
Why is Mea Culpa rated R? Mea Culpa is rated R by the MPAA for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, language, some violence and drug use
Violence: Characters describe grisly forensic evidence from a crime scene. Characters fight each other with knives. A woman is stabbed. A woman is hit by a car. A man is thrown out of the car in a crash and his bloody body is shown. A woman is slapped in the face. A man threatens other characters with a gun.
Sexual Content: There are multiple explicit sex scenes including breast and buttock nudity. A scene takes place in a sex club, with explicit sex shown. Characters describe sexual acts in detail.
Profanity: The script contains 23 sexual expletives, around 35 mild and moderate expletives, and three terms of deity. There is one non-aggressive use of a racial slur.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults socially drink in some scenes. A man smokes weed. There are references to pharmaceutical addiction.
Page last updated February 23, 2024