If you’ve ever laid in bed wondering what The Big Chill would be like stripped of its humor, resonance or quality acting, Why Did I Get Married? is here to put those ponderings to rest. Tyler Perry’s film is an emotionally shrill movie about four married couples that find their relationships strained during a Colorado vacation.
Based on a stage play Perry wrote, the film is character driven — letting the couples’ struggles to heal their wounded marriages take center stage. Unfortunately, Perry’s script is a shallow look at marital strife — exposing superficial characters to problems that are largely one-sided in their blame. Instead of building up complex problems for the characters to chip away with using spirited discussions that expose the often-tumultuous nature of modern relationships, Perry plots his movie like he would a wrestling match. Couples are split down the middle — thrown into black-and-white roles as protagonists and antagonists with little care given to letting the audience make up their own mind on who to side with.
The film’s marital fights are so broad and cartoonish that audiences won’t have any investment in their outcome — it’s painfully obvious how each story will wind up if the audience has seen any other melodrama by Perry … heck, if the audience has seen any other melodrama period.
Sharon Leal plays Dianne, an ambitious lawyer who does not take the time to properly show affection to her husband Terry (Tyler Perry). Angela (Tasha Smith) is a loud-mouthed alcoholic with anger issues who cuckolds her equally unfaithful but loving husband Marcus (Michael Jai White). Mike (Richard T. Jones) is a complete and utter ass to his wife Shelia (Jill Scott) — bringing his mistress (and Shelia’s friend) Trina (Denise Boutte) to the couples retreat. Flaunting his infidelity is not the extent of Mike’s douchebaggery. When, on the flight to the couples’ retreat, Shelia is told she must buy an extra plane ticket due to her size, Mike forces his wife to leave the plane and drive by herself to Colorado.
Finally, Patricia (Janet Jackson) is a relationship doctor who has written a book about the four couples’ marriages and their varying strength. Despite being an expert in relationships, Patricia’s own marriage to Gavin (Malik Yoba) is strained thanks to the death of their child.
Perry does a fine job establishing the characters as they travel to Colorado for their vacation. He carefully creates a problem for each couple to overcome. It’s in playing fair with the argument’s resolution that Perry fails. In all of his films, Perry’s biggest weakness is his constant need to placate his audience with easily digestible characters that fit into preset molds. He is not interested in complex protagonists and antagonists who live in shades of grey. If a character is not clearly defined as somebody for audiences to root or cheer for based on their actions, Perry is not interested.
While watching four couples bicker for an hour and a half can be enjoyed on one level as a nicely shot soap opera with good music, there’s nothing of substance for audiences to find nourishment in. The movie is a shell — a carefully constructed piece of melodramatic origami that, with the slightest breeze, falls apart under its own absence of weight.
Perry is to be commended in his tenacity in writing. He pumps out several movies a year. Why Did I Get Married? is perhaps proof that quality inerrably always takes a beating when the focus is on quantity. Why Did I Get Married? has all the ingredients in the Tyler Perry formula but there’s a soul missing to the movie. And without a soul, Why Did I Get Married? is about as pleasant to watch as having to witness a marriage break down in real life.
Why Did I Get Married? is presented in 1080p in a 1.78.1 widescreen ratio. Clear color distinction and sharp detail are present in the high definition transfer. The film’s relatively low budget means you’re not getting a Blu-ray that you’ll want to use to show off your entertainment system. As an upgrade from standard definition, though, Why Did I Get Married? looks nice on Blu-ray.
A 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack clearly presents the film’s music and dialogue. All stereo channels are used but the film, due its dialogue heavy nature, makes the most use out of the front speaker.
The Girls of Married — A look at the film’s female cast using interviews.
The Guys of Married — Same verse, different tune. The male cast takes center stage in this series of interviews.
Married Rides the Rails — A behind-the-scene look at a part of the film that takes place on a train.
Winter in Whistler — A look at the film’s production design and location scouting.
Janet Jackson: Return of an Icon — A brief look at Janet Jackson as an actress, including her return to the big screen after an extended absence and Perry’s “reluctance” at including her in the cast.
Reflections on Getting Married — Interviews with the film’s cast as they discuss their own marriages and the lessons they’ve learned.
The Music of Married — A look at the film’s music with interviews with the movie’s composer.
Why Did I Get Married? is not an emotionally ambitious film. This is pretty remarkable since the movie is one of the most grounded in reality of Perry’s films. If Tyler Perry could be considered the Woody Allen for black Christian women, Why Did I Get Married? is Perry’s most Allen-esque film. Unfortunately, the movie misses all the wit and charm of Allen’s earlier work, instead focusing on the melodrama. But, like watching an entire afternoon of daytime television will give an average person a headache, Perry overdoes his film on strife without having the audience resonance to back it up.
Lions Gate presents Why Did I Get Married?. Directed by: Tyler Perry. Starring: Tyler Perry, Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, Malik Yoba, Richard T. Jones, Michael Jai White, Lamman Rucker, Sharon Leal, Tasha Smith and Denise Bolitte. Written by: Tyler Perry. Running time: 118 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on Blu-ray: November 23, 2010.
Tags: Janet Jackson, Michael Jai White, Tyler Perry, woody allen