Patricia (Janet Jackson) is a highly regarded and very famous psychiatrist. Her book about marriage has just won a very prestigious award. Still, a tragedy in her past has driven a wedge into her marriage to architect Gavin (Malik Yoba). Things aren't much better with said pals. Angela (Tasha Smith) is a loudmouth drunk constantly denigrating her struggling husband Marcus (Michael Jai White). Diane (Sharon Leal) is a driven attorney. Having just made partner, she can't find time for her young daughter, or depressed spouse (Perry). But the worst situation exists between Sheila (Jill Scott) and Mike (Richard T. Jones). He is constantly calling her fat. He's also cheating on her with best friend Trina (Denis Boutte). When the group gets together for their annual vacation, everyone is on edge. Soon, secrets will be revealed, leaving everyone wondering about the state of their relationship.
Comparing a movie to its original source may seem unfair, especially when the previous offering was a vignette-oriented combination of songs, Scripture, and slapstick. But in the case of Why Did I Get Married?, Perry's purposeful tinkering with his product produces mixed results. Gone are Poppy and his faith based family retreat. Connections have also been altered, names changed, and new characters added. Diane is no longer Poppy's dutiful daughter, helping her father run the Christian counseling group. She's been transformed into a far-too-busy lawyer, with Perry himself playing her dissatisfied doctor husband. Sheila, Trina, and Mike are still here, but they've been supplemented with new characters Patricia, Gavin, Angela, and Marcus. Perhaps Perry thought that, by broadening the scope, he would become more cinematic. Instead, such an approach actually undermines his designs.
Perry is best in small, manageable doses -- usually with an effective Gospel toe-tapper sandwiched in between the sentiments. But here, allowed the free reign that the motion picture canvas provides, he goes overboard. The inclusion of new couples is too much of a similar thing, especially when you consider that Angela and Marcus only bring STDs and nonstop scripted bickering to the proceedings. The transformation of Diane allows for misplaced priorities and a backhanded slap at how feminism undermines the family. The most important storyline stays the same, but with Jill Scott handling the role, there's a distinct sense of desperation. On stage, Cheryl "Pepsi" Reilly did a great job of balancing pathos with power. Here, our lead is detached, as Ms. Jackson is distant in her role as proposed psychological peacemaker.
And yet, fans and the faithful won't care. They'll embrace Why Did I Get Married? as they did Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea's Family Reunion. Oddly enough, Perry's least successful film -- Daddy's Little Girls -- had no theatrical foundation. It suggests that recognizability more than subject matter drives viewers into his cinematic revival tent. Unfortunately, for all its superficial entertainment value, Perry-ites won't recognize much of Why Did I Get Married? And in this case, a lack of familiarity just may breed contempt.
Aka Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?
Run time: 113 mins
In Theaters: Friday 12th October 2007
Box Office Worldwide: $55.2M
Production compaines: Lions Gate Films
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
IMDB: 5.5 / 10
Director: Tyler Perry
Producer: Tyler Perry
Screenwriter: Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry as Terry, Jill Scott as Sheila, Janet Jackson as Patricia, Michael Jai White as Marcus, Malik Yoba as Gavin, Sharon Leal as Diane, Richard T. Jones as Mike, Tasha Smith as Angela