This weekend, on opening weekend, I went and saw Tyler Perry's latest Why Did I Get Married, the next in his line of feel good uplifting stories of the Black Experience. I was originally going to see it at Atlantic Station, but I forgot about the Taste of Atlanta and so I dashed up to Phipps. I now remember why I prefer Atlantic Station.
Mr. Perry's world seems to inhabit the same world of the black romance novel, where everyone is well off, well educated and articulate. Well, almost everyone. My favorite character, Tasha Smith's feisty Angela is the black woman I know. Obviously educated and accomplished, but more than willing to unleash if provoked. As much as I want to be mad that the characters lives seem so plastic, I'm kinda glad they're not portrayed as the bad stereotypes. But is there no middle ground to the black character? Either they've made it to the top, or hustlin on the side. Where are the people in the middle?
(In the interest of full disclosure I've had a thing for Tasha Smith since I first saw her in NBC's Boston Commons in the mid-90s)
I won't go into the story, you had to have read it somewhere...four couples get together for their annual retreat, this time in Colorado, only to have the secrets and issues they've been repressing bubble to the surface. This is my take on it: Janet Jackson is stiff at times, Tyler Perry has written himself the Jimmy Stewart/Good guy role, and Richard T. Jones comes across so unabashedly vile it's almost fun to see just how far he can take it. Smith and Jones characters and performances spice up an otherwise bland bit of celluloid. It's a Tyler Perry movie, so you know it will all work out in the end, but that's not why you go. I laughed, I cried, I was shocked, and watched Sporty suck in a breath when man candy hit the screen. So it wasn't perfect, but it was good.
I'm thinking, the good people in Hollywood may need to turn to look at the Perry Method and learn a trick or two. This is the third incarnation of this project, from stage play to filmed version of the stage play to feature film. Having already found out what works night after night, all Perry has been doing with existing works is put the last bit of Hollywood polish on them and he's got gold. In an industry that prides itself on milking every formula and is struck with sequelitis, you would think they would appreciate the "just do it over with a new sticker" concept that's putting the butts in the seats.
One last point. I realize that the film wasn't pre-screened for the media, but Filmcritic.com doesn't have a review up 72 hours after release. And for the #1 film in America? It's a shame.
You need to go see it. Good film.
Barkeep - Maker's Mark and a dash of Ginger. Yeah.