A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film is too grown-up for the younger members of Tyler Perry's ultra-loyal fanbase. Though there's no explicit sex, and the language is fairly mild (occasional uses of "ass" is about as strong as it gets), the movie's themes -- infidelity, deception, and vulnerability within a marriage -- are definitely meant for adults. Also expect plenty of sexual innuendoes, some characterizations bordering on stereotype (the leech-like ex-wife, the shopping-crazy mistress, etc.), and social drinking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Tyler Perry's ensemble drama WHY DID I GET MARRIED? follows the relationship ups and downs of four couples--lifelong friends who take a vacation in the mountains to catch up on one another's lives and wind up airing their dirty laundry in the process. Lawyer Diane (Sharon Leal) can't seem to stay away from work, despite her pediatrician husband Terry's (Perry) pleas to spend time with him and have another baby. Famous psychologist/author Patricia (Janet Jackson) and her architect spouse, Gavin (Malik Yoba), seem perfect on the outside but are aching after the death of their son. Hair care guru Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus (Michael Jai White), an ex-pro football player, can't stop bickering. And Sheila (Jill Scott), a housewife, can't seem to get much love from Mike (Richard T. Jones), her not-so-better-half, who spends his days either needling her about her weight or cheating on her.
Is it any good?
There's no denying Tyler Perry's talent. As a writer, he has a pretty good command of voice; he's able to capture a woman's point of view in addition to a man's. As a director, he's sure-footed, confident in his ability to tell a story. Still, that doesn't mean that this film -- which he both wrote and directed -- is a great movie. Interesting, yes. Enjoyable, sure. Funny, pretty much. But the parts are greater than the whole.
In short, everyone's relationship is a mess, which any filmmaker worth his salt knows makes for good storytelling fodder. But here, the material's bogged down by unsurprising life lessons -- you can't get everything you need from your spouse, for starters -- and expository dialogue that tells, not shows. When Sheila loses it after discovering Mike's infidelity, she announces that her life is "nothing" without him. But we only know it because she says so. When Patricia breaks down and cries over her lost child, she says she's been suffering all this time -- but we haven't witnessed any of it. Basically, the characters talk too much and don't do enough, leaving the film slack. Nevertheless, the cast has chemistry, with Scott as the breakout star for her nuanced performance. Sheila is so pathetic, so beaten down, and yet so sadly believable that when she finally finds herself (and a new man), it's hard not to clap and holler.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie portrays marriage. Does it seem real, or is it Hollywood-ized? If so, how? In movies, why does marriage seem so difficult? Is it that way in real life? Families can also discuss why Tyler Perry is so popular. Have you seen his other movies? What do they have in common? Who are they targeted at, and why do they appeal to that audience? Do you like him better as his character Madea or as a "regular" actor? Why?