Film review: Why did I get Married? ***

2008-03-10 00:00

THIS film by Tyler Perry is a bit like a dramatised Dr Phil or Oprah show. Four couples go on holiday together to discuss the state of their marriages, led by psychologist Patricia (Janet Jackson).

The couples (all black) are middle class and successful: doctor Terry (Perry) and lawyer Diane, Patricia and Gavin, an architect; Angie and Marcus, who run a salon and hair products business, and Mike and Sheila (Jill Scott), whose professions are not clear.

In a rather stilted opening, Patricia addresses a class of students and introduces each of the couples, who we then see on their way to the marriage retreat.

Each couple are displaying their problems on the trip: Terry and Diane are fighting about the fact that she spends too much time on her work; Angie and Marcus are on a train, she’s drunk and they are fighting, loudly, about his “baby mama” and lack of a proper job; Mike and Sheila board a plane with a friend, but Sheila’s large size means that she is asked to get off, Mike agrees with the flight attendant and humiliates Sheila; Patricia and Gavin are leaving a lot unsaid.

Tyler Perry, who wrote, directed and produced the film, has previously done more comic films, and the audience on Saturday afternoon was certainly prepared to laugh: more than Perry intended, I think. The film is rather awkward in tone: a bit didactic and talky — a collection of types, rather than real characters.

When the secrets start to come out, there’s a lot of baggage, and while Perry doesn’t shy away from the issues, he resolves them a little too easily.

The film concludes with all the couples attending an awards ceremony at which Patricia is honoured for her book. Sheila, whom Mike has divorced, arrives transformed: with the help of a good man, she has lost tons of weight and is now remarried. This is the oddest moment in the film: would she really have done all this without once talking to her girlfriends about it?

Why Did I Get Married? is an odd film. It tries to address serious issues about the way men and women interact, but does it in a somewhat uninvolving way.

The film is an idea rather than a drama that illuminates an idea.

Still, it is trying to be intelligent, and it is to Perry’s credit that he managed to get it made and released, in a market that seems to see black films mostly as loud comedies and dance flicks, with cross-over stars like Will Smith and Denzel Washington allowed to star in action thrillers.

*** Kate Hoole

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