Courtships and serious relationships between two people do not necessarily have to culminate in weddings and baby showers, but because marriage and starting families still prevail as the emblem of the next level of commitment, the characters in Tyler Perry’s film “Why Did I Get Married?” can’t just ask themselves, “Why do I still love you?”
Perry’s self-adapted (from his own play), directed, and co-produced dramedy centers on four married couples who meet once a year for a week of introspection and communication exercises. If the key to a long-lasting, successful marriage is honesty and trust, then these husbands and wives should have ever-strengthening bonds. There’s a catch, though; and it’s called human nature. Fidelity is tested, gratitude diminishes, and unspoken words can come running into the picture at the worst time. For the characters in “Why Did I Get Married?,” their faith in one another gets a strong reality check.
Each of the couples represents a situation that married people likely experience at some point in their relationships. Terry (Perry) and Diane (Sharon Leal) are professionally successful but struggle with control issues (he wants another child, she does not). Patricia (Janet Jackson) and Gavin (Malik Yoba) appear to have the ideal marriage but a tragic event from their past keeps them stuck there emotionally. Sheila (Jill Scott) and Mike’s (Richard T. Jones) marriage treads down a rocky path due to his unappreciative attitude, among other weaknesses. Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus (Michael Jai White) might still love each other a lot but factors such as an ex-wife and too much drinking—on Angela’s part—threatens to aggravate an already volatile dynamic. There are also two wild cards in the mix: Sheila’s friend Trina (Denise Boutte) and Sheriff Troy (Lamman Rucker) of the small Colorado town where the four couples gather for the most recent retreat. The annual getaway starts off as a time to relax and reconnect but then fumbles into discomfort and betrayal after secrets are spat out and unbridled truth is displayed.
Perry’s film made me laugh frequently and whole-heartedly; more so than any theatrically released American film has in many months. The majority of the thunderous laughter was the result of Tasha Smith’s performance. She’s a sharp-tongued drunk whose sarcastic edge magnifies with every increased intake of alcohol. Although her method of verbally expressing and defending herself might hurt her husband’s and her friends’ feelings, their “loss” is our gain.
In exploring the ways in which these four couples struggle to reclaim the ups of matrimony when the downs have grown too burdensome, “Why Did I Get Married?” wobbles in two places: 1.) When Terry and Diane finally confront each other on their mismatched priorities, the dialogue suggests that the gender equality a woman can expect in the workplace does not always apply at home. 2.) The film resolves two other storylines too cleanly. Despite these hiccups, “Why Did I Get Married?” imparts a rewarding experience by presenting characters that put forth energy to hang on to love, not just fall head-over-heels into it.