Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?

Release Date: April 2, 2010

She's going to convert him to be part of the Rhythm Nation.

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77/123 David Mumpower Tyler Perry has grown as a director and I am not just saying that. This film was only a few moments and two heinous characters away from being quite good.

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Call me crazy, but I’ve recently come to realize that to me, the one film maker Tyler Perry currently has more in common with than any other may be George Lucas. This isn’t meant as a direct box office comparison; Mr. Lucas probably budgets more for on-set catering than Mr. Perry did for his last film in its entirety. My meaning is a little more esoteric. Both film makers are best known for a very distinctive product aimed at a very specific type of audience. And because of this, each man enjoys a passionately devoted following which makes his work both very profitable and essentially critic-proof. Both men make very different types of movies but they each benefit from a lot of the same things. And the reason I’ve made a habit of comparing Tyler Perry to other directors is because although he gains a lot from being almost the sole practitioner of his genre, this makes it easy to overlook the fact that he often falls prey to the same pitfalls as other creative minds.

One of the traps of owning a critic proof product is that it’s often tempting to play it safe and fall back on established patterns, rather than try to break new ground. That may be fine for certain types of material, but Perry’s work has always tried to stake claim to somewhat higher ground. This is why although I found Perry’s initial efforts to be groundbreaking, I’ve come to detect quite a bit of sameness in his more recent efforts. Most of his films tend to cover much of the same thematic ground and even when they don’t feature the same characters and archetypes, they often share many of the same faces. These are not necessarily inherently negative things, because fans often enjoy it. But over time an artist’s catalogue can start to feel diluted by such repetition. This may make it seem counterintuitive for Perry to produce a sequel, but not only is it something he’s never done before but in doing so he again strays from some of his most well worn characters and into potentially new territory.

Why Did I Get Married, Too? is Perry’s first direct sequel, a follow up to 2007’s Why Did I Get Married? While I tend to feel that borrowing a naming convention from the Teen Wolf franchise is beneath him, there’s still probably fertile ground for Mr. Perry to examine how these characters have grown – or failed to grow – since we last spent time with them. Once again, the same couples join each other on a yearly retreat – this time in the Bahamas – where they have set aside time to examine their relationships and enjoy fun and fellowship together. However, each couple has grown; entering a new phase of life and each faces the inevitable challenges that come with transition. New children, new jobs, and new temptations to marital fidelity have changed some of these characters, and in other cases, made them more the same. But as before their time together has the potential to soothe old wounds, open new ones, strain the bonds of some relationships and strengthen others. While the basic story template is similar and making a sequel that way seems obvious, this time it does seem somewhat realistic to repeat the same formula. Most people don’t change very much over time unless they’re forced to. And scientifically speaking, examining the same subjects under the same magnifying glass a few years apart is a pretty effective way to determine just how much growth there’s been.

As always, I expect Tyler Perry to enjoy a solid return on his financial investment on his project. The Force is with him, just as it has always been for George Lucas. So the real question is going to be not how much Mr. Perry’s characters have grown, but how much he has. Despite a slight retooling of formula here, I still don’t foresee a successful director taking a lot of risks with what has worked so well for him before. Tyler Perry has earned his fans’ devotion by repeating specific thematic messages through his work. But repeating a lesson without varying the content can often lead to your intended audience tuning you out, even as they appear to still be listening. And success can often blind a popular artist to the possibility of creative stagnation. By choosing to take yet another detour away from Madea, Joe and their all too familiar universe, in my opinion Perry will already be doing both himself and his audience a favor. (Bruce Hall/BOP)

Vital statistics for Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?
Main Cast Tyler Perry, Janet Jackson, Jill Scott
Supporting Cast Sharon Leal, Lamman Rucker, Richard T. Jones, Tasha Smith, Michael Jai White, Cicely Tyson, Louis Gossett Jr.
Director Tyler Perry
Screenwriter Tyler Perry
Distributor Lionsgate
Rating PG-13
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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