Why Did I Get Married is Tyler Perry's best film. Granted, I'm hardly the target audience for his oeuvre, but if it spoke that much to me, imagine how much his intended viewers will get out of it.
Review: Why Did I Get Married?
Four couples go away on an annual retreat to work on their marriages. There's the workaholic wife and her devoted hubbie longing for another child. There's the whipping boy and his sassy spitfire who'll say anything. There's the therapist and her husband who seem to be avoiding their own issues. And there's the total A-hole making fun of his overweight wife and flaunting his affair right in front of her.
At first it seems overly simplistic. These are pretty one dimensional archetypes and the dialogue seems overly overt. It's like, "Here is our problem. What about their problem? Here's what's going on outside this week at the cabin. Oops, I accidentally hinted at your painful tragedy."
By the midway point, the film reveals juicy secrets that are not quite what you were expecting from all the vague hints along the way. That is a real crowd-pleaser, totally satisfying and addressing some evil manipulations that are very real in long term relationships.
Even before that point, it is a likeable bunch. They condemn the A-hole and praise the admirable, and it is lively banter. There are no drastic tonal shifts like in the previous Perry movies. It's just consistent dramedy. A scene that begins as a joke about overweight people on a plane becomes painfully real. It is the absurdity and sorrow of real life.
Perry is very good playing a non-Madea character. You can definitely see that he wrote it for himself and he completely understands all the nuances of his script, where others may be just reading the lines. Tasha Smith turns the sassy, loud Angela into somebody who really speaks for the audience. That character could have gone south in less capable hands.
Everyone gets a moment to show their stuff. Jill Scott is heartbreaking and Janet Jackson does a sort of African-American Bree Van De Kamp until her breakdown moment. The men get to be pretty heroic, except for the A-hole who deserves what he gets.
There are some issues that are simplified. You could do a real exploration of what happens when someone undergoes such a drastic physical change that attraction is just not an option. But the guy in that relationship is such an A-hole, the weight is not even the issue. That's fine. Chris Rock addressed the sexless marriage well in I Think I Love My Wife.
The brilliant thing about Why Did I Get Married is that it holds people accountable for their roles in the marriage. In some cases, one party is really shirking all the responsibility. In others, it's a joint effort. There may be a few more inherently noble men, but that works for me.
The therapist helps others, but needs to learn to let her husband help her. The workaholic damn well should have to learn to swallow some pride and the loudmouth will have to learn some people skills. I think it's important to show women that they have to step up in relationships. There are plenty of movies where men apologize for stuff, and there won't be any shortage of those in the future. And the film does say that each party is responsible. It's just a matter of who has actually been taking responsibility and who has further to go.
Why Did I Get Married could be the date movie of the year. Not a first date. Wait until they're already too invested to weasel out of it. Or maybe use it as a screening mechanism. Just, for god's sakes, talk about things and deal with it!