Directed by: Tyler Perry
Starring: Janet Jackson, Tyler Perry, Jill Scott, Sharon Leal, Malik Yoba, Tasha Smith, Richard T. Jones
Commercially, Perry is a winner. Artistically and morally—well, that’s another matter. As filmmaking goes, Why Did I Get Married Too is a pretty big step down from both Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All by Myself (2009) and Tyler Perry’s the Family That Preys (2008). This one is probably about on par with Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail (2009)—with slightly higher production values (evidenced by wrecking a Pontiac in Madea and a Porsche here). Here we appear to have Perry in the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Fatuous” mode popularized by Nancy Meyers. He’s got the sets and locations down, but he hasn’t learned to shoot everything like an Architectural Digest layout à la Meyers. This may actually be in Perry’s favor, but the barrage of poorly framed shots and awkward cuts are not. I know Perry can do better than this; I’ve seen it.
This is a sequel to Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? (2007), featuring the same couples who were together at the end of the first film. Sheila (Jill Scott) dumped cheating, abusive husband Mike (Richard T. Jones) for hunky Colorado sheriff Troy (Lamman Rucker) in the first film, so she’s married to Troy this round. It’s essentially more of the same trouble-and-strife of married life—with a lighter than usual dose of religion. Indeed, I think God only made it into the film once: when Jill surveyed the time-share beach house and enthused how all this beauty proved the existence of God. (I never knew God designed beach resorts.)
I’ve always been troubled by Perry’s depiction of domestic violence and I found a whiff of misogyny about the first Married film. It’s in full-flower here. The central problems with all four marriages in the film get dumped on the women. We have the rocky marriage based on the wife’s insane level of jealousy. There’s another that’s on less-than-firm ground because the wife is not exactly cheating, but is all a-dither over another man. The third couple is divorce-bound because the wife is incapable of communicating or seeking help for this problem. The fourth marriage strains under the weight of the husband being unemployed, because of the wife’s insistence that they move closer to her friends and mother. As near as I can tell, these marriages would be OK if it weren’t for the wives.
The film is, otherwise, pretty much the standard assortment of low comedy and high melodrama. The bulk of the latter is handed over to Janet Jackson in a performance that gets high marks for theatrics, if nothing else. I suppose it was inevitable in our post-Tiger Woods world that the golf club should be added to the Perry arsenal of womanly rage—and I won’t deny that Jackson swings a mean nine iron.
There are much more stupefying things about her character, but the discussion of them involves spoilers, so read no further if you haven’t seen the film and plan on it. Jackson is the uncommunicative wife, whose calm demeanor finally shatters—causing not just her driving range rage, but the inexplicable decision to deliver a mincingly gay stripper to husband Gavin’s (Malik Yoba) workplace. Why? I have no idea, since there’s been nothing—and is nothing—to suggest gayness about Gavin. Following this, she harasses Gavin into the parking lot, into his Porsche and straight into a fatal car crash. Her penalty? She gets an utterly ludicrous big scene (“Fix it! Fix it!”), writes a popular book on grieving and gets to “meet cute” with a hunky special-guest star in the last scene. What was Perry thinking? Approach with caution. Rated PG-13 for thematic material, including sexuality, language, drug references and some domestic violence.