WIRTB Film Review: Why Did I Get Married Too? and Tyler Perry's Filmography

By @speedonthebeat

Now, I'm a strong proponent of black cinema. The Best Man and its sequel are two of my favorite movies. And Lee Daniels, when he's not being somewhat difficult, can make compelling stories (and Empire, flaws and all, is halfway watchable when you take it as it is--and don't try to make it into this great existentialist thing). However, there are some movies that shouldn't have been thought into existence.

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too may very well be one of those movies.

Welcome to another mind-boggling edition of WIRTB Review, where I review some of the worst moments in cinema (and wrestling) history and try to determine whether or not they're really that bad.

Mr. Perry has one of the most-spotty film records among black cinema. His movies tend to make decent money, but usually scrape the barrel on stereotypes and try to make them work with and through somewhat Christian overtones. Strong somewhat Christian overtones. Have you seen Temptation? The moral of that film is perplexingly bad (AIDS is a sinners' disease and you'll become a 90-year-old if you cheat and get AIDS) and the acting is even worse. The only bright spot in that blight was Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who was one of my pre-adolescent and adolescent "baes," if you will, and that Kim Kardashian kept her mouth closed.

Seriously, you could've just had Mrs. Smollett-Bell stand there for 90
minutes and it would've been a better movie.

But, let's not run down all his movies and get into 2010's WDIGMT. Why am I focusing on Why Did I Get Married Too versus his entire filmography? I honestly feel that this movie showcases the greatness that's possible within Tyler Perry--and the putrid writing/cinematography/acting/music choices which keeps said greatness undiscovered at the same damn time. However, as it's unavoidable, references to Perry's other work will be made (see above).

The fact that one of the big jokes of the film recites the title of the movie shows you the material we're dealing with here. Mr. Perry seemingly insults his audience with jokes which beat you over the head with their obviousness. To make matters worse, these low-hanging fruit of comedy are usually delivered in a way that's dead ass sessions versus for ironic or sarcastic effect. We're supposed to honestly believe that people talk like this and find it funny. At least with Cookie Lyon of Empire, we know she's a caricature of the street-smart, jail-toughened "gangsta ass bitch," for a lack of a better term. Most of Perry's characters are played straight.

To make matters worse even still. I'd forgive him if these abominations of jokes were actually funny once in a while. Heck, Madea, in all her sassy mammy crossdressing glory, she can be funny even when it's groan-worthy. Why? Because it's not serious and not meant to be taken serious. In most of Tyler Perry's films, all sorts of mind-numbingly awkward "comedic" moments come to fruition. 

For instance, as a bit of a tangent from our main focus, let's look at The Family That Preys, specifically the scene when Sanaa Latham gets smacked across the diner counter. It's a scene that's dramatic, but played for laughs out the ass. But...what's so funny about a cheater being bitchslapped?

Yes, Perry's work is chock-full of morality play tropes. For instance, SPOILER ALERT, the mean old drunk husband, Gavin (Malik Yoba) who blames Janet Jackson for killing their son in a car accident in WDIGMT gets--you guessed it--killed in a car accident for no real reason other than to say "I told you so"), but scenes like this dilute already watery movies. WDIGMT is loaded to the brim with these sorts of moments.

For instance, Tyler Perry's character, bland good guy, Terry (Get it? "T. Perry" minus the P? No? I'll move on), has some pretty big blinders on until the third act of the movie when it comes to his wife's emotional cheating. Yes, he pseudo-questions it. But, for the most part, he lets it slide.

"Oh, you just called me 'Jamison?' Oh, ok. I'll be Jamison.
Oh, you meant 'Phil?' I can be him, too."

I don't know about you, DefineARevolution.com readers, but if my wife called me any name other than the names we usually call each other? I'd question it. Speaking of bland good characters, the sequel takes almost all of what made Jill Scott's character, Sheila, engaging and what Perry'd built up during the previous movie--especially her fighting spirit--and turns her into a character who begs for forgiveness and is happy with being second fiddle. That's not to mention the fact she takes her abusive ex-husband to chemotherapy. I'm all for forgiveness, getting right with God, and settling down, but c'mon man! You spent the entire first movie building up Sheila, having her take crap from her husband and his mistress. Then, you have her, just like in most Perry films, see the good in a bad person in a bad situation and run to the fallen angel to help him mend his wings (and help her new man see the great in said fallen angel as well).

Speaking of which, why are the dark-skinned men typically the "men are evil and will hurt you" person in many Perry movies which have a big bad? In Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Steve Harris's Charles was the evil bad man. In Madea's Family Reunion, it was Blair Underwood. In WDIGMT, it's kind of Malik Yoba's character in the sense that he gets plastered, burns family photos, assaults Patricia and performs a royal mindscrew on her--and that's before he dies. And save your "oh, she brought some of his insanity on herself by being a workaholic" counterarguments. They're not strong enough.

I think the only time the big bad wasn't some random dark-skinned black male was The Family That Preys, because the big bad was Sanaa Lathan. There's got to be some sort of self-hatred going on in Mr. Perry's mind. The fairer-skinned black families are usually better off and the darker-skinned counterparts are either played for laughs or played for psychological trauma. In some ways, that's no better than so-called "white Hollywood" and its depiction of black families and black people.

See what I mean? Yes, we all have "that one friend" who acts
like this. But even then, I'm sure they turn it off at least once a day...

However, as bad as Perry's movies could be (and as much untapped potential as there is in that man's work), he has theoretically opened a lot of doors. Empire and Power probably wouldn't be things if it weren't for Perry and his team re-breaking down the racial glass ceiling in Hollywood. Hell, Lee Daniel's first mainstream film, Precious--again, for better or worse--wouldn't have been able to see the light of day in some ways if it weren't bankrolled by Tyler Perry and Oprah. Ava DuVernay may have been just another indie darling if films such as Precious and The Butler didn't make an impact.

Tyler Perry has been a necessary evil in black cinema to a degree. But, if this "evil" has helped put on as many black writers and directors as he has and helped keep as many black actors and actresses in the spotlight in roles that aren't just gangbangers, hoes, and the like...is he really that bad?

Uh, yeah.

WDIGMT shows us why. It's emotional torture porn, just like most of his movies. Except, instead of people getting their heads blown to bits, we get every character torn apart emotional and psychologically (remember his adaptation for For Colored Girls?). His inability to maintain even the slightest bit of interesting in his characters destroys any cobbled-together message they spew out at the last moment like a bad, all-black version of an After School Special. I want to say "hey, maybe I'm overthinking this." So, I went back, without any expectations, and re-watched the movie.

Same result.

Tyler Perry, thankfully, has learned from his mistakes and has stepped away a bit from cranking out modern-day chitlin' circuit-themed films every year and some change. At least his new series The Haves and the Have Nots is cinematic gold, right? It's Dynasty levels of soap opera genius, right? No...ah well. There're always the Ava DuVernays, Rick Famuyiwas, Shonda Rhimes (at times), and Malcolm (and Spike) Lees (sometimes) of the world.

So, until next time, this is Speed on the Beat saying I review the crap so you don't have to.


Popular Posts