For his ninth feature film, writer/director Tyler Perry has returned to the source of his most inspired work. "Why Did I Get Married Too?" is a sequel to the 2007 domestic disturbance ensemble piece, reuniting all of the original cast to once again delve into the flood waters of marriage, trust, and infidelity. The original film wasn't an astounding emotional investigation, but it permitted Perry a chance to work on a script concerning adults, without the pinching shackles of the demonic Madea character or his feckless stabs at religious enlightenment. "Married Too" continues the coarse matrimonial adventure, only now the childish rage and jarring tomfoolery has moved to the Bahamas, allowing the earsplitting melodrama a chance to grab a tan.
Continuing their annual get-togethers, couples Diane (Sharon Leal) and Terry (Tyler Perry), Patricia (Janet Jackson) and Gavin (Malik Yoba), Marcus (Michael Jai White) and Angela (Tasha Smith), and Shelia (Jill Scott) and Troy (Lamann Rucker), have gathered in the Bahamas for a week of fun in the sun. Much like their previous encounters, tempers flare when the couples have a chance to share their bedroom woes and gender role fears, with added trouble arriving in the form of Mike (Richard T. Jones), Shelia's abusive ex-husband, who's come to enjoy a vacation. Returning home after a stormy week of wicked introspection and arguments, the couples are faced with new decisions to make, contemplating divorce or worse after this friendly gathering reveals ghastly secrets and desires.
Actually, the tropical playground only takes up a third of "Married Too," serving as a change of locale to launch the sequel with a few fresh steps. The effect only lasts mere seconds before the film snuggles up to the same old Perry business, only the sequel feels the vile urge to up the ante thousandfold in the hysteria department. If there are two forces in filmdom that should be kept as far away from each other as possible, it has to be hysterics and Tyler Perry.
It's actually fairly shocking to watch "Married Too" tear into itself so swiftly, steamrolling across the screen with a head-rattling shrillness that doesn't mesh at all with the original picture. To Perry, this franchise is now professional wrestling, with heroes to cheer and villains to boo, taking whatever minuscule dimension of characterization there was to nuzzle in 2007 and reducing it to a merciless clenched fist that strikes the viewer over and over in all the sweet spots. "Married Too" is a cinematic act of cruelty, and I'm curious to understand why Perry decided to amplify the viciousness to apocalyptic levels, where the first picture made due (and money) with a softer, more controlled tone of distress. Sequels generally quest to outdo their screen forefathers, but this feature is absolutely preposterous in the manner it plays to the rafters. Heck, even past the rafters at times.
Even the audience at the midnight screening I attended (Perry doesn't like film critics to sniff around his movies early) found themselves laughing at, not with, the wailing absurdity. Perhaps the filmmaker has finally lost touch with his loyal audience.
Staged for the camera like one of Perry's plays, "Married Too" is unforgivably stiff, with clumsy cinematography that makes the picture feel rigid and synthetic. The dialogue appears largely improvised as well, with actors often talking over each other, thus creating more unwelcome noise. This is an unconvincing ensemble, but I don't place the blame for this film squarely on their shoulders. After all, it's Perry's vision, and he wants the vein-poppin', staggering-around-with-a-bottle-of-booze, overly reptilian stuff here. The performances are uniformly dreadful, but there's a special migraine grip from Tasha Smith, who positively terrorizes this film as hyper-jealous shebeast Angela. She's a rampaging velociraptor, bleeding gunshot wound, and Ke$ha song all rolled up into a 100-pound African-American nightmare, and every last screen moment with her screeching self is death. Pure death. There's nothing funny about the performance, though Perry seems amused, encouraging Smith to squeal until hoarse and stomp until bruised.
Smith's agonizing performance plays into a larger concept of sympathy that Perry bungles immediately. Are we supposed to feel for these characters and their failed marriages or do we revel in their petty jealousy, rampant stupidity, and overall inhumanity as some type of sport? Perry doesn't have a single insightful thing to say about the state of marriage in the United States, instead erecting the film as a gladiatorial arena, pitting men versus women in a battle royal of unnecessary contempt. Perry doesn't take the dramatic challenge of relationship despair seriously, and this sequel is all too quick to exploit some very real emotions to rile up the crowds with wild displays of implausible numbskullery. "Married Too" isn't about the heart, it's about rabid behavior to whoop over.
And if you think the film couldn't get any worse than 105 minutes of lunatic soap opera turns, actors chewing the frame, and Perry turning marriage into an act of sustained emotional violence, he goes completely spineless in the final 15 minutes, ushering in cancer and a car accident to rush his film to a close, barely capping any of the subplots off in the process. It's downright shameless, assisted by a Perry first: a surprise celebrity cameo, helping to swallow this alarmingly bitter pill.
Cancer. Good lord. Talk about an unabashed, intensely distasteful screenplay cheat.
I've sat through every single Tyler Perry film hoping for something that reveals promise or spotlights creative growth, and I thought the original "Why Did I Get Married?" was a interesting peek into the filmmaker's potential future away from the prison of Madea. I was wrong. "Why Did I Get Married Too?" is actually Perry's most obscenely obnoxious, morally bankrupt, and professionally ramshackle film to date. It's appalling in every way, showing a disregard for humankind in a manner that should keep Perry on a therapist's couch, not on a film set.