Tyler Perry burst on the scene in 2005 with Diary of a Mad Black Woman. It was one of the worst-reviewed movies of the year, but when it raked in over $50 million dollars at the box office, Tyler Perry silenced critics and became a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. Before his movie-making career, Perry was already a huge success in the African-American community, having written several Christian and family-oriented plays upon which many of his movies are based.
After Diary, Perry went on to star in and direct the sequel, Madea’s Family Reunion, which did even better at the box office. And since then, he’s created his own studio, released three more movies, is set to release a few more, and currently produces a sitcom, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, on TBS.
With each movie, his reviews have gotten moderately better, and they’ve never been higher than on Why Did I Get Married. While it only received a rating in the mid-40’s at RottenTomatoes.com, the ever-increasing reviews of his films prove that Perry is still growing as a filmmaker and has not yet reached his peak.
In Why Did I Get Married, four couples, each super-successful in their professional lives, go on a trip to an isolated location to participate in a friendly session of marriage counseling lead by Patricia (Janet Jackson), a therapist who uses her friends as willing test subjects for her book. But this year, each couple has a secret that threatens to break up their seemingly happy marriages.
The best thing that Why Did I Get Married has going for it is the cast. It’s filled with familiar faces, such as Jackson, Richard T. Jones (Event Horizon), Michael Jai White (Spawn), and Malik Yoba (New York Undercover). But the one who stands out the most is Jill Scott. Scott, primarily known as an R&B singer, has limited acting experience, but surpasses most of the experienced cast, turning in a heartfelt performance that is the most memorable thing in Why Did I Get Married.
The rest of Why Did I Get Married is mostly filled with self-indulgent talk. The cast does well with the limited script, but at times they are too whiny and preachy. It is refreshing to see an African-American-dominated cast take on the perils of marriage, something so standard of “white” movies, and be free of standard A.A. movie clichés like gang violence and raunchy sex jokes. But pretty much every white character in the movie is either gay and/or seemingly racist. For his good intentions toward family values, it would have been nice to see Perry do the same for race relations. And while none of it is too mean-spirited, it is slightly annoying.
Put simply, Why Did I Get Married is another Perry success story. Its earned $55 million at the box office despite appealing mostly to African-American audiences, and it’s sure to rack up even more on DVD. And while it may appear to be geared toward a certain demographic, it does have universal appeal in its subject matter, is family friendly, and there are some good laughs to be had. The characters are well-played and well-developed in places, but in other parts they are whiny and self-centered.
In the end, Why Did I Get Married proves that Perry is still a work in progress, but he shows signs of equaling his early financial success with quality movies that are received by people of all races.
Why Did I Get Married is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 30 mbps. The colors are clear and crisp and pop off the screen. There is no distortion to speak of. This is a good-looking picture for a good-looking movie.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 works about as well as you could expect. There’s plenty of music, and you’re going to get at least CD quality there. Dialog fits in perfectly. There isn’t a really wide use of the surrounds to speak of. It’s all placed just fine, if a bit front-heavy throughout.
Janet Jackson: Return of an Icon is a short interview with Jackson, who discusses her return to movies after an eight-year absence. Reflections on Getting Married is more of a standard “making-of” doc, discussing the filming process and how the cast feels about the various marriage-related themes explored in the movie. The Music of Married is another short featurette, which explores the music of the film and interviews with the composer for the film, Aaron Zigman.
Also included are the very short features: Married Rides The Rails, The Guys Of Married, The Girls Of Married, and Winter In Whistler.
Why Did I Get Married is another stop on Tyler Perry’s seeming rise to world domination. It’s a flawed film, but it still manages to feel refreshing due to its positive vibes for marriage in a culture that doesn’t think much of it. The audio is pedestrian due to the dialog-heavy material, but the disc does look very good. The special features are limited and short, but do offer a brief look into the production process. It’s pretty obvious that fans of Perry will flock to the stores to pick up this disc, but non-Perry fans looking to explore his work should start here, which is his best film to date.
Parts of this review were written by Gino Sassani