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STUDIO: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
- Janet Jackson: Return of an Icon
- Reflections on Getting “Married”
- The Music of “Married”
Ah, that nagging old question…
Tyler Perry (sans makeup and dress), Sharon Leal, Janet Jackson, Malik Yoba, Jill Scott, Richard T. Jones, Tasha Smith, Michael Jai White, Keesha Sharp.
“Whooo. Now that was nasty! You a straight up freak, Ms. Jackson!”
Eight married college friends reunite at a mountain retreat vacation. Once there, the couples’ marital issues wind their way to the surface and upon their secrets become public knowledge – including cheating, lying, and bitching and moaning – each of the couples have to decide whether or not they’re going to work through them and stay together.
Up until now, I’ve steered wide of Tyler Perry films. Two of his four films to date have involved Madea, his trash-talking alter-gender-ego and merely the site of him/her/it makes me want to jump off my balcony screaming. Despite black audiences supposedly eating Madea up like a plate of red beans and rice, I’m not having it. I actually have a copy of Diary of a Mad Black Woman that I got free (and no, I wouldn’t bother to bootleg or download it if you’re wondering) and it has remained unwatched by yours truly. It has an honored place at the back of my DVD shelf where it will conceivably remain until the building is torn down.
Phone voice: “You’re getting in the way of what I’m feeling. You’re getting in the way of what I’m feeling. You’re getting in the way of what I’m feeling. You’re getting in the way of what I’m feeling.”
Jill Scott: “Ha ha ha. Okay, look Mariah, this shit wasn’t funny the first eight times you did it…”
I hear better things about his non-Madea film, Daddy’s Little Girls, although if you check out our DVD review here, it’s only marginally better. So Why Did I Get Married is essentially my indoctrination into the theatrical world of Perry. And I’d say that it’s his safest bet to appeal to a larger audience without slipping on the pantyhose and mumu. A safe way to describe it is that it’s an equal-opportunity Waiting To Exhale, where the brothers also have their own relationship hang-ups and don’t come off as complete tools, at least not all of them.
Perry has assembled a pretty good ensemble cast here, including having snared the elusive Janet (Ms. Jackson, ’cause I’m nasty), who hasn’t appeared theatrically since 2000’s Nutty Professor II. Other notables to the cast include Malik Yoba, Sharon Leal, Jill Scott, Richard T. Jones, and Michael Jai White, who surprisingly isn’t kicking somebody’s teeth into his brain. Perry himself plays Terry, a married professional whose wife, Diane (Leal) is a busy lawyer who doesn’t seem to have time for him and their daughter since making partner. This is so much so that she practically lives on her cell phone, especially when Terry wants to have a conversation with her. Their biggest issue, however is that Terry wants more kids and she doesn’t.
A little something for the ladies.
Ms. Jackson and Yoba play husband and wife, Gavin and Patricia, who are still trying to cope with the loss of their toddler son in a traffic accident where Patricia was driving. Although the annual getaway is their idea, Patricia’s become distant to Gavin. Easily the most fun couple are Jai White and Smith as feuding spouses, Marcus and Angela. He’s the cheating ex-football player who works for her at her salon and she’s the alcoholic big mouth who trashes his manhood at any and all opportunity. Finally, Scott is the overweight Sheila, who’s self esteem is somewhere south of Antarctica thanks to the constant verbal abuse of her husband, Mike (Jones). Meanwhile, Mike shows up with his mistress, Trina (Denise Boutte), who is also a friend of Sheila’s. This of course doesn’t sit well with anyone else at the gathering, particularly Angela.
“Miss Jill Scott?”
“Heh. Who are you?”
“Oh, so you’re a comedian, huh?”
All in all, Why Did I get Married is a somewhat likeable, but ultimately pedestrian black (folks, not tone) relationship comedy. I’d put it below more famous fare of the genre such as the aforementioned Exhale, The Brothers, and The Best Man as Why didn’t really bring anything new to the table that you haven’t seen before with any of those other films. Sheila’s story in particular is a straight amalgamation of both Loretta Devine’s and Angela Bassett’s characters’ troubles in Exhale. And aside from a cathartic scene with her husband dealing with the death of their son, Ms. Jackson’s Patricia is ultimately uninteresting.
I love Ms. Jackson, and she won an NAACP Image Award for this role recently, but her performance just doesn’t really stand out to me here. I felt that it was much more deserving to either Jill Scott or Tasha Smith, both who gave starkly different, but ultimately more interesting portrayals. Smith particularly was fun and her interaction with Jai White, who proved that he has other talents besides handing people their pancreases, were the highlight of the movie. Richard T. Jones, whose work I’ve liked for a long time, was also fun as the indifferently cruel and sarcastic Mike. I hope he gets more recognition from this role that he should have had a long time ago. As for Perry, he gives a sedately solid performance and his directing here is serviceable. Ultimately, Why Did I Get Married is also serviceable, if not a little derivative of better films in the genre.
Transcript from weekly Jackson family conference call: “No, Tito, I can’t spot you a couple of grand. No Randy, I can’t spot you a couple of grand. No Marlon, I can’t spot you a couple of grand. No Jermaine I can’t…”
The film looks good and sounds fine in Dolby Digital. Perry has a nice selection of artists for his soundtrack including Keith sweat, Keyshia Cole, Anita Baker, Kelly Price, Beyonce, Musiq Soulchild and…Michael Buble? There are three featurettes, Janet Jackson: Return of an Icon, about Ms. Jackson making her return to film after eight years and runs about seven minutes. There’s also Reflections on Getting “Married” dealing with the production of the movie and how the film’s main question applies to the real life cast, which also runs about seven minutes. Finally, The Music of “Married” highlights the musical score by Aaron Zigman that clocks in about eight minutes.