If there's one thing I took away from Tyler Perry's 'Why Did I Get Married Too' it's that African American men really do not like their significant others looking at their cell phones.
So much of the movie, in fact, is devoted to whether or not various characters will let the women folk look into their password-protected phones that I wondered why this wasn't more of a concern to me.
Was I missing something, by not feverishly guarding my phone, away from the prying eyes of women in my life? But then I realized, no, I'm not a weirdo with something to hide. Still, the bewilderment remained throughout my odyssey through the world of Tyler Perry, a world which still seems quite alien to me.
To explain: up until this point, I'd never seen a Tyler Perry movie before. I had seen 'Precious,' which I understand he signed his name to well after the fact, and I had seen him in 'Star Trek,' but I had never seen something that he had written/directed/produced/starred in and catered. Recently, I saw a fascinating report about the filmmaker on "60 Minutes," wherein they visited his Atlanta production facility and spoke to him, at length, about his life and what makes his films so popular. The dude is a cultural tour-de-force, a zeitgeist-capturing phenomenon and, thus far, I had sat him out.
So I was really jazzed to see this movie, except that, of course, it's really terrible.
It probably didn't help that my first Tyler Perry movie was also a sequel. 'Why Did I Get Married Too,' which takes place roughly three years after the original film (thanks, helpful "trivia track!"), is roughly centered on a vacation that a small army of couples (among them a couple played by Perry and Sharon Leal) embark on in an attempt to explore and strengthen their relationships. This was the "hook" of the movie and what much of the film's advertising was centered around, although it makes up a shockingly limited amount of the film's running time. While there are some occasionally quite gripping actors amongst the troubled romantics (like Janet Jackson and the actor formerly known as Spawn, Michael Jai White), Perry shoots and choreographs things so confusingly.
Shockingly inept filmmaking aside, there is a certain amount of bouncy charm to this early section of the movie. There's also a fair amount of histrionic screaming, courtesy of Tasha Smith (she is the one who is almost pathologically suspicious of her spouse's cell phone and its shady password protection). Sadly, the amount of histrionic everything gets amped up once the couples leave the island, and the kind of genre-melding that Perry frequently gets cited for (as a positive) came across as jarring and unpleasant.
As the movie shifts away from the island couples therapy stuff, a glum mood settles over the entire enterprise. Extreme, eye-rolling melodrama replaces the jovial relationship humor, with some "big themes" being explored through clunky dramatic set pieces (the amount of shrieking increases exponentially). Even though I had only a sliver of understanding as to how these people related to each other, having mercifully skipped the first film, it was even more bewildering. But even if I had seen the earlier picture, I can't imagine being all that moved by what transpired.
Instead of something that actually spoke to me, all I saw was a clumsy collection of clichés. With the back slapping and observational humor pushed entirely to the margins, all that's left is stuff that we've already seen, most of it unpleasant. Although, it should be said that Dwayne Johnson, whose charm-o-meter is off the charts even when he shows up for a split second towards the end of this crap, is enough to elevate anything.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The film is presented on a 25GB Blu-ray disc (this movie isn't exactly maxing out anything on the audio and video – more on this in a minute), which isn't BD-Live enabled but is Region A-locked. That's about all she wrote.
The video quality on 'Why Did I Get Married Too?' (which bore 'Tyler Perry's' possessive stamp during its theatrical run) is fairly high, sporting a MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer (aspect ratio maintaining its theatrical 1.78:1), though the quality of the transfer is often wasted on the quality of the film.
Take, for instance, an early scene where the men are talking to one another on the beach (for some added back story, one of the men shouldn't be there, for reasons that were never made entirely clear – thanks for nothing, "trivia track!") In the scene, some of the men are on water skis while others are sitting on the beach, but director Perry has such a boneheaded conception of the shots, and their spatial relationship to each other, that it becomes more than befuddling.
These early, tropically set sequences do look fairly great – detail is fine, color is bright, and skin tones look natural and varied. There's some depth there, too, mostly thanks to the fact that the backgrounds are actually real and vivid and Perry couldn't screw them up too much.
Once things move back to the states, and things are mostly set indoors (there's a lot of men chasing women around in darkened rooms), the film gets noticeably muddier-looking and in the aforementioned scenes of domestic terror, with less light, things look even worse. Black levels weren't all that great, and sequences draped heavily in shadow tended to be blurry and unfocused.
Half of the film looks quite good, the other, not so much. We'll split the difference and call this an only "alright" visual presentation.
Just as unsatisfactory is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, one of only two the disc boasts (the other is a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 track). Perry's films, as I've come to understand them, are quite talky, and this one is an almost nonstop cavalcade of talk.
What this means, from an audio standpoint, is that things are mostly located front-and-center, with only the occasional sequence that will highlight the surround sound field (again: the guys chasing the woman around in darkened rooms).
There are the sounds of waves in the tropical sequences, and some other ambient embellishments, but mostly this is a dialogue-fest, and on that page things are always crisp, clear, and well prioritized, offering the best of "that kind of thing." It's just that "that kind of thing," when done as drably as this, comes across as not all that exciting. Some range would have been nice.
Included on the disc are subtitles in English, English SDH, and Spanish.
There is a slim collection of unappetizing extras on this disc, the same of which are on the standard DVD.
Tyler Perry is, unquestionably, a creative titan. He's a man who, probably before the next decade is out, will have his own cable channel in addition to the dozens of feature films, plays, and television shows he's responsible for. And that's great. He seems like a really nice guy and people love him. But don't count me among his fans. I really wanted to like 'Why Did I Get Married Too,' but found it to be a poorly directed bore, all too ready to engage in clichés and stereotypes, veering far away from the incisive emotional portraits that most of Perry's supporters claim he's responsible for. If you liked the movie, then you should surely pick up the Blu-ray, although with only adequate A/V and a handful of disappointing extras, it will probably disappoint you too. For any non-Perry devotee, please skip. If you were going to watch it with a significant other, it may just help save your relationship.