2 Stars — Weak

Marriages have qualities that are both similar and unique. They’re similar in that frustrations and temptations are common to all couples, and they’re unique in that every couple will find their own way to express their love. So we can all identify with the title of the Tyler Perry film Why Did I Get Married, Too?

Although every married couple will have a unique answer to that question, Perry’s film, which he wrote and directed, allows us to see a variety of relationship styles in the lives of four couples. Longtime friends, the four couples are once more together on their time-share retreat, this time in the Bahamas. It is there that they discover how everyone is really doing, and upon returning home, the story of their lives takes some unusual twists.

Terry (Tyler Perry) and Dianne (Sharon Leal) have reversed roles, with Dianne making the living as a lawyer and Terry being the sensitive, stay-at-home parent. But this reversal doesn’t make them immune to the struggles of a couple in which one member leaves the home each day to enter the tempting world of business.

Patricia (Janet Jackson) and Gavin (Malik Yoba) demonstrate the isolating privacy of professional life. As a psychologist and author, Patricia makes herself be “fine” regardless of the reality of her life and marriage. Gavin also struggles with life inside the enclosure Patricia requires. We discover that inside them both is an imprisoned pain of an indescribable loss.

Marcus (Michael Jai White) and Angela (Tasha Smith) have a tumultuous relationship in which they loudly proclaim their struggles for all to hear. Filled with distrust and insecurity, Angela puts her husband in continual double-binds and embarrassing situations. Marcus seems to seek out such moments as he does little to help her feel secure.

Troy (Lamman Rucker) and Sheila (Jill Scott) are the newlyweds of the group. But to add another layer of tension to the tale, Sheila’s ex-husband, Mike (Richard T. Jones), returns in an attempt to win back his former wife. At first his return reveals the stress of second marriages and the unresolved issues of first ones, but we soon discover that there are larger issues in his life that have brought him back.

Although insightful in several ways, what makes Tyler’s film tiring is its inability to bring joy into the marriages of the couples. Every marriage has its difficulties, and male-female relationships can be a struggle, but there are also great marriages full of faithful, trusting love. If the only examples of marriage we have are the four in Why Did I Get Married, Too?, we would be hard-pressed to find an answer. That is sad, both for the film and for us.


» Which of the four couples most closely resembles your marriage or love relationship? Did you gain any insights to help strengthen that relationship?

» Mike mistreating Sheila left him to face his own mortality alone. Would you have assisted him in his hour of need as Sheila did?

» How do you think Patricia’s grief over the loss of her son impacted her ability to love? Do you think her training as a psychologist helped her or hurt her?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.