Tyler Perry Ensemble Drama Explores an Assortment of Marital Issues
Every year, four married couples, best friends since college, take a break from their hectic schedules to share a weeklong vacation together. This go-round, these affluent African-Americans’ annual getaway is to a luxurious lodge nestled in the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. But none of them probably anticipates just how eventful a reunion is about to unfold, with shocking skeletons coming out of the closet at every turn to reveal a quartet of failing relationships acutely in crisis.
Providing the flashpoint for the sordid festivities are Mike (Richard T. Jones) and Sheila (Jill Scott in a fat suit), the only couple with obvious issues. At the point of departure, we observe the cruel abuser opting to proceed to Colorado aboard a commercial flight with his mistress (Denise Boutte) despite his wife’s being escorted off the plane for being too heavy. This means that he and Trina show up at the soiree way ahead of his spouse who has to drive herself to the tiny town of Pemberton through a swirling snowstorm.
Understandably, this development does not sit well with the other wives, especially outspoken Angela (Tasha Smith) who not only feels loyal to Sheila but also a bit threatened by the presence at the chalet of a shameless hussy. Angela doesn’t need any additional drama, as her handsome hubby, Marcus (Michael Jai White), a former pro athlete, has already brought some baggage into her life via a baby-mama.
Used to speaking her mind, this trash-talking, eye-rolling finger-snapper has no problem telling Trina exactly what she thinks of her. However, she soon learns that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, as it spitefully comes out that Marcus has VD and might have gotten it from his ex, Kiesha (Kaira Whitehead).
For, in dire need of relief from his burning sensation, upon arriving, he had approached Terry (Tyler Perry) for a much-needed dose of penicillin. Meanwhile, pensive pediatrician Terry’s own simmering marital tensions with workaholic attorney Diane (Sharon Leal) threaten to come bubbling to the surface when he makes a demand for more quality time and to expand their family. And it’s not long before Patricia (Janet Jackson) and Gavin (Malik Yoba), a psychologist and architect, respectively, finally break the silence about the accidental death of their toddler which had left them emotionally-estranged and plunged deep in denial.
Thus, “Can these marriages be saved?” is the recurring theme raised by Why Did I Get Married, an alternately enlightening and entertaining adaptation by Tyler Perry of his stage play of the same name. Perry again exhibits his unique ability to create African-American characters with considerable depth who relate to each other in a realistic manner likely to resonate with black audiences thirsty for such sophisticated fare, even if his one-dimensional portrayal of whites and gays leave a lot to be desired.
The females featured in the ensemble provide the film’s most-compelling moments, starting with songstress Jill Scott scintillating screen debut as Sheila, a lonely soul in search of self respect. Then there’s scene-stealer Tasha Smith, who’s in danger of finding herself forever typecast following another unforgettable outing as a sassy sister, one similar to her role in Daddy’s Little Girls. Even Janet Jackson delivers a powerful performance that won’t leave a dry eye in the house as a mother consumed with overwhelming regret.
The Best Man (1999) meets The Big Chill (1983), only with more flava.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexual references and mature themes.
Running time: 118 minutes
Studio: Lions Gate Films