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Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? DVD Review

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? movie poster Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?

Theatrical Release: April 2, 2010 / Running Time: 121 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Writer/Director: Tyler Perry

Cast: Tyler Perry (Dr. Terry Bobb), Janet Jackson (Dr. Patricia Agnew), Jill Scott (Sheila Jackson), Sharon Leal (Dianne Bobb), Malik Yoba (Gavin Agnew), Richard T. Jones (Mike), Tasha Smith (Angela Williams), Lamman Rucker (Troy Jackson), Michael Jai White (Marcus Williams), Louis Gossett, Jr. (Porter Jones), Cicely Tyson (Ola Jones), Nia-Iman Muhammad (Kenya Bobb), Tyson Gilmore (T.J. Bobb), Valarie Pettiford (Harriet Bobb), Marc Farley (Stage Manager), K Callan (Ms. Tannenbaum), Dwayne Johnson (Daniel Franklin - uncredited)

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Tyler Perry is a film institution like no other today. With 2005's Diary of a Mad Black Woman, the writer/director/producer/actor took the brand of entertainment he developed on the stages of Atlanta (and other stops on the urban theater circuit) and turned it into its own class of cinema. The box office success of that film paved the way for other adaptations of his plays, all of which he has scripted, produced, and directed and most of which he has also acted in.

Five years since his big screen debut, Perry is about to release his tenth signature film, this one (For Colored Girls, recently dropping the rest of its original title: Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf) his first adaptation of someone else's play and his first to put itself into award season consideration. In addition to that, Perry has lent his name and support to multiple Oscar winner Precious, has two sitcoms currently running on TBS, and even made a cameo in last year's Star Trek film. Not bad for someone operating almost exclusively in PG-13-rated black family stories, a domain that practically didn't exist before him.

Cash-strapped newlyweds Sheila (Jill Scott) and Troy (Lamman Rucker) arrive in the Bahamas for their tropical couples retreat. Tyler Perry lets us know when things get really bad for Patricia (Janet Jackson) and Gavin (Malik Yoba) by bathing them in blue night light.

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? becomes the first official sequel in Perry's filmmaking canon, directly following 2007's Why Did I Get Married?. The original performed better than most of his reliably profitable output (three of which rank among distributor Lionsgate's 10 all-time highest-grossing releases).
If like me, you didn't see that one, it told the story of four troubled married couples on a retreat (all of whom have darker skin than Vince Vaughn and Jason Bateman) in the mountains of Colorado.

All four couples are back, although one had divorced and the woman remarried last time. To everyone's surprise, the ex-husband shows up at the group's getaway to a large beach house in the Bahamas, creating a tense third wheel situation among the nine adults, who leave their kids at home. The gang is comprised of the following pairs: stable, good-humored Terry (Tyler Perry) and Dianne (Sharon Leal); published psychologist Patricia (Janet Jackson, first by billing but probably last by screentime) and Gavin (Malik Yoba); the always-bickering Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus (Michael Jai White); and newlywed new parents Sheila (Jill Scott) and Troy (Lamman Rucker). Sheila's abusive ex Mike (Richard T. Jones) is the unwanted party, who nonetheless asserts his right to the timeshare.

The movie's first hour is spent in the Bahamas. The second returns everyone back to Atlanta, where new problems emerge and intensify. Probably the biggest among them is that the group's longtime model for marriage, Patricia and Gavin, are divorcing, a process which only starts civilly. The distrustful Angela never stops screaming, making the password to Marcus' cell phone her biggest bone to pick. Terry becomes suspicious that Dianne is having an affair of her own. And Mike's uncharacteristic remorsefulness troubles Sheila and threatens Troy, who's struggling to find a job upon relocation.

Terry (Tyler Perry) believes his wife is having an affair when he hears another man's name on her lips. The worst part is that it's a woman's emotional affair, which is worse than a man's sexual affair. Old-timers Porter (Louis Gossett, Jr.) and Ola (Cicely Tyson) earn an invitation to "Why Did I Get Married" night, the closing night of the couples' annual retreat.

Why Did I Get Married Too? is a rather curious film. It has utter disregard for cinema's standards in pacing and tone. The smaller of the two significant issues is the pacing; the movie runs a full two hours with end credits, which is longer than most earthly, contemporary human interaction pictures. There isn't an abundance of content to justify the length; instead, you spot flabby, aimless scenes throughout, several of which have a DVD deleted scenes section feel to them.

The wildly varying tone is tougher to wrap your head around. One moment, the movie is being silly; sports commentator Marcus speaks in football analogies, Angela gets covered in human ashes, a flamboyant male dancer pops out of pretend birthday cake at a professional workplace. In the very next breath, the movie opts for ridiculous seriousness; one husband gets drunk and violent, an elderly couple (Louis Gossett, Jr. and Cicely Tyson) is supposed to move us with their "why did I get married?" stories, a lead character dies, and another is diagnosed with cancer.
It's so ludicrously erratic. Among the divergent approaches, the movie is much more comfortable with the comedy, but it seems to have no idea of that, as it keeps striving for poignancy with even less success than the loud, grating adultery "humor."

Though the results are increasingly unpleasant, you can't entirely write off the film, as the voters of IMDb do when they rate Perry's movies low enough to flirt with entering the Bottom 100 list. The bachelor writer/director/star seems sincere in his belief for the institution of marriage and well-intentioned in exploring the issues that divide so many unions. But the world of his upper class characters seems so removed from reality and utterly unable to handle any topic with tact and reason. It's sort of refreshing that you don't mistake the rhythms and personalities of Perry's dramedies for those of any other contemporary film. But said rhythms and personalities are so tough to warm to or even comprehend that the only praise you can offer the creator is for providing representation and stories for groups that Hollywood otherwise ignores. As such, you wish the only person making these kinds of movies was able to treat and serve his people better.

Commercially, Married Too? was a clear success, earning $60 million on a $20 million budget. Perry's films perform strongly on a crazily consistent basis. The majority have grossed $50-$60 million in their nearly U.S.-only release of 2,000 theaters. Should you fear that For Colored Girls will bid farewell to the Tyler Perry that people know and love, know that Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family is set to open in just six months.

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?: Widescreen DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.95
Eco-Friendly Black Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in Full Screen DVD ($29.95 SRP) and Blu-ray ($39.99 SRP)

VIDEO and AUDIO

Why Did I Get Married Too? looks terrific in its 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen DVD presentation. The limited critical praise that Perry earns usually doesn't relate to his technical prowess, but bring a production to the Bahamas, and things can't look too bad. The picture is clean, sharp, and detailed throughout the largely inert proceedings.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is far less satisfactory. While all the elements are crisp and clear, there's a huge, annoying range in volume. You've got to crank up the sound to hear the dialogue and then featured songs (often selected with hilariously literal meaning) come in so loud, you've got to turn things down quickly. The same is true of the heightened sound effects, whether they're played for comedy (angry gun-toting wife) or drama (angry glass-smashing wife). I can't imagine anyone wants to watch a movie ready to adjust volume with the remote in hand, and few home theater owners won't be bothered by the disparity.

Sharon Leal's mixed ancestry is one of the funner fun facts of the Couples Character Guide Trivia Track. Michael Jai White explains how the fact that and his onscreen wife Tasha Smith used to date shapes their chemistry in the featurette "Male Bonding."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Extras begin with a "Couples Character Guide Trivia Track", subtitles that dispense the occasional fact relevant to what's onscreen. This kind of thing could be provided on any movie to the degree it is here. The information doesn't flow anywhere near frequently enough to justify a second viewing just for it, but if you've already seen the movie, you might learn a few minor things (most recalling the first movie for those who have forgotten or not seen it) with this activated.

Complementary featurettes look at the film from male and female points of view. "Girl Talk: The Women of Married" (10:55) gathers comments from the actresses on their characters and each other. "Male Bonding: The Men of Married" (12:12) addresses marriage, the leading men's parts, and delights unique to this sequel.

Getting chopped up into rectangles is the theme of Janet Jackson's "Nothing" music video. It's raining rings as Angela (Tasha Smith) takes a sip from her hot pink flask in her big airport hat on the "Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?" DVD main menu.

The letterboxed music video for Janet Jackson's end credits song "Nothing" (4:10) multiplies and divides the artist as she walks and sings among clips from the movie.

The DVD loads with trailers for Why Did I Get Married?, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, I Can Do Bad All by Myself, The Least Among You, and, in a rare bit of interstudio promotion, Our Family Wedding. The same ads play from the menu's inaccurate "Also from Lionsgate" listing.

The main menu plays a montage inside a wedding ring as smaller ones rain down on the mild reformat of the poster and cover art.

If nothing else, the DVD's cardboard slipcover does devote a spine to the ladies, who appear to be more prominent than the men in the film.

Angela (Tasha Smith) is not about to let this cell phone password thing go with Marcus (Michael Jai White). Girlfriends gotta stick together, especially on a sad blue night.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

It's hard not to be impressed by Tyler Perry's ability to make two movies a year with his own personal imprint on them.
It's also easy to be confused why an audience keeps turning out no matter how slipshod and inconsistent his films are. With his streak of handy profits and poor reviews, Perry might just be the most reliable filmmaker today.

As one of the Madea-free melodramas, Why Did I Get Married Too? looks to be grounded, but its efforts to make you both laugh and cry are largely in vain. I expect Perry's faithful following will enjoy this (if they haven't already), but those who have yet to understand the director's appeal won't likely do so here. Starting with its title and mere existence, everything about this sequel is kind of strange.

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Reviewed October 12, 2010.



Text copyright 2010 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Lionsgate, Tyler Perry Studios, and Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.