Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? is basically an urban update of another film with a question for a title Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
In both films, a group of people, some married to each other, are away in a deserted area, and the secrets, lies, and deceits that have plagued their marriages come to the forefront.
However, that is where the similarity ends.
Married is an uninspired, shapeless mess of a picture, with unconvincing characters, painfully broad comedy and an alarming lack of focus.
The film stars Janet Jackson as Patricia, a marriage counselor and best-selling novelist. She, along with her architect husband, Gavin (Malik Yoba), travel to the steep mountains of Colorado for a couple’s retreat.
They are joined by three other couples with assorted marital troubles.
While driving up to the mountains, Terry (Tyler Perry) complains that his workaholic wife Dianne (Sharon Leal) spends more time working, or on the cell phone with friends, than she does with him.
“I just want this vacation to be about us, and you’re on the phone,” Terry whines, sounding more pathetic than sympathetic. His concerns have merit, but Tyler Perry, who also wrote and directed this film, has done little to flesh out these characters and their motivations. The audience just sees Terry and Diane as just a couple of people arguing.
This lack of character development is especially prevalent in the depiction of the second couple, Mike and Shelia (Jill Scott and Richard T. Jones).
While on a plane to Colorado, Shelia is asked to buy a second ticket because her girth will not allow her to be accommodated by one plane seat. Her husband exclaims, “I’m not buying another seat, you’ll have to drive then!” He forces her to drive to the cabin while he stays on the plane with Shelia’s best friend Trina, (Denise Boutte) who he is not-to-subtly having an affair with.
You may ask yourself why a man would bring his mistress to a couple’s retreat with his wife? But the answer to that is summed up in everything that happens in this film: because the plot requires it.
Along with making his wife drive up to the mountains-and largely forgetting about her until she arrives-Mike exposes a steady stream of jokes about her weight and her lack of attractiveness.
Mike is so mean, in fact, that at one point when Shelia wears a beige silk gown to bed, he says, “the lights are too bright in here, I can still see you.” The reasons for his cruelty and her passive acceptance of it are never made clear, as if they read the script and acted accordingly.
He is a jerk because the story needs him to be one-also as much as it needs a loud obnoxious black woman.
Meet Angela, and her husband Marcus (Tasha Smith and Micheal Jai White). They are the last couple to arrive – and boy do they have issues.
Angela likes to drink, and likes to “tell it like it is”. She engages in lengthy harangues that both emasculate and demoralize her husband, who she believes is having an affair with his baby’s mother.
Eventually, all of the secrets within the four marriages are revealed, and the film handles them with all the subtlety of a fog horn at morning mass.
The couples fight, argue, break bottles and carry on in a way that shows more of Tyler Perry’s disdain for his audience than a real attempt to answer his title’s question.
How can we feel happy for the couples that survive in the end, when we still can’t figure out why they are together in the first place?