Thursday, October 18, 2007

Answer: Not to Be Dragged to Films Like This

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?

Release: 10/12/2007
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 53 minutes
Second Run Seats ($$)

Janet Jackson (Nutty Professor II) and Malik Yoba (*Soul Food) portray Patty and Gavin, a psychologist and architect whose marriage is strained from the loss of their child. Every year the couple meets with their college buddies (all also married) for a week-long retreat. At the retreat, each couple will open up to evaluate their marriage and smooth any rocky issues in the company of friends. As the four couples gather at the mountaintop lodge in a snowy Colorado town, they find that friends do not always help matters.

This film marks Tyler Perry’s third play-to-film adaptation. The third time, however, is not a charm. This adaptation, the first lacking his Madea character, is sorely in need of her matriarchal wisdom and witticism. The saga of each couple’s life, while identifiable and relatable, is unenergizing. Like Perry’s previous endeavors, the characters are stereotypical but he adds a couple of insulting and clich├ęd background roles that stick out like a sore thumb. The acting with a few exceptions is barely tolerable. Malik Yoba, i.e. the actor with the greatest talent, gets the least lines and simply serves as a set decoration. Singer Jill Scott gets the juiciest role of Sheila, the meek, heavyset wife of the degrading and domineering ass Mike, played by Richard T. Jones (Guess Who). Scott manages to wring every bit of emotion out of this one-note character, making her performance slightly impressive but mostly melodramatic. The characters of Angie and Marcus, played by Tasha Smith (Whole Ten Yards) and Michael Jai White, (Ringmaster) are obnoxious, rude, and conniving and, hands down, the most entertaining and emotionally realistic couple of the group.

Dirty Undies
I didn’t mention Ms. Jackson’s acting because it just was. What she needs to be more concerned about is why she looks so haggard and severe in this film. Granted, Patty was supposed to be suffering internal anguish, but damn if she didn’t look tore up even when she was happy. It was such a disappointing departure from the sexy and freaky Janet. Luckily the rest of the cast is scrumptious. In particular, Michael Jai White is just muscles on top of bulging muscles. Pretty faces always help deter attention from uninteresting dialogue.

The Money Shot
The blame for the mottled results of “Why Did I Get Married” lies fully on Perry’s shoulders. It’s his story that didn’t translate well to the screen. It’s his clumsy and clunky direction that makes this a cumbersome movie experience. While its Perry’s staple melodrama, the truly exaggerated thing about “Why Did I Get Married?” is any lavish praise it has received.

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