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The Independent Critic

Tyler Perry, Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, Sharon Leal, Malik Yoba
Tyler Perry
Rated PG-13
113 Mins.
 "Why Did I Get Married?" Review 
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Tyler Perry is not a subtle man.

While Perry continues to grow as a filmmaker, "Why Did I Get Married" continues Perry's trend of putting out films with an obvious "stagey" feel to them that don't work as well as they should even though they do work better than one would expect.

In his second feature film without the Madea character, Perry again brings one of his stage plays to the big screen with "Why Did I Get Married," a film that works because of the heart and soul of the cast even when it feels like Perry's over-the-top preachiness is about to cave everything in.

The film centers around four couples who gather each year at a Rocky Mountain retreat for your basic "save our marriage" therapeutic weekend. Being a Perry production, the weekend will be filled with lots of laughs, lots of tears, lots of revelations, a few heartbreaks and a solid Christian center that without the preachiness that often accompanies such a central core.

Janet Jackson leads the cast as the relationship expert who guides the weekend supported by her husband (Malik Yoba). There's a power couple (Tyler Perry and Sharon Leal), a drinkin'/fightin' couple (Michael Jai White and Tasha Smith), and an obviously abusive couple (Jill Scott and Richard T. Jones). Before the weekend is over, in typical Perry fashion, secrets will be revealed and lives will be changed for the good and the bad.

The ensemble cast is solid throughout, most notably a well-padded Jill Scott as a gentle, sweet woman trying to deal with a cheating hubby, and Tasha Smith, who's blessed with the film's best lines and she nails every one of them.

While it's certainly easy to knock Perry's inability to produce anything approaching subtlety, it seems almost pointless to do so. Perhaps because of his lack of subtlety, Perry's films inevitably say things that most of today's filmmakers don't have the balls to say and it's rather refreshing to have a filmmaker actively speak out on issues. The scenes between Jill Scott and Richard T. Jones, for example, are almost achingly painful in their honesty and brought vividly to mind the utter shock of Blair Underwood's domestic abuse scenes in "Madea's Family Reunion."

Other solid performances are turned in by Janet Jackson and Perry himself, who proves he needn't be dressed in drag to be an accomplished actor.

Toyomichi Kurita's cinematography is solid given the film's inherent staged feeling and that all of Perry's films continue to be modestly budgeted productions. Aaron Zigman's original music complements the scenes nicely, and, while the production design doesn't quite tear us away from the staged feeling, it nonetheless fits the proceedings well.

Tyler Perry doesn't really need film critics. While his first turn away from Madea, "Daddy's Little Girls," was a box-office disappointment, Perry's modestly budgeted films continue to successfully reach Perry's targeted urban markets and, with a typical box-office in the $50 million range, Perry's future as a filmmaker continues to be on solid ground.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic