Review by Kam Williams
For years, four very close couples, friends since college, have been taking an annual vacation together to luxurious getaway spots to reconnect, reminisce, and reflect on the state of their marital relationships. Their previous reunion at a Colorado ski lodge proved very eventful, especially for the emotionally-abused Sheila (Jill Scott), who eventually summoned up the courage to dump her openly-unfaithful husband, Mike (Richard T. Jones), a creep brazen enough to bring his mistress along.
This go round, these unusually-introspective revelers made reservations at an oceanfront resort in the Bahamas, where just as much melodrama is about to unfold. But this time, Mike’s the third wheel, because Sheila’s now remarried to Troy (Lamman Rucker), the local cop who rescued her like a knight in shining armor in a blizzard back in the Rocky Mountains.
Nonetheless, Mike shows up uninvited, hoping to rekindle a little romance with his ex. He’s looking to leverage the fact that the newlyweds arrive a little distant from each other due to Troy’s inability to find a job since relocating to Atlanta. And while Sheila has tried to reassure Troy that she doesn’t mind being the breadwinner, the role reversal simply doesn’t sit well with a guy who’s more comfortable with being the provider.
Meanwhile, the three the other couples find themselves facing serious battle-of-the-sexes issues, too, starting with outspoken Angela (Tasha Smith). She has trouble trusting her hunky hubby (Michael Jai White) who won’t share his cell phone password with her. After all, the former pro athlete has cheated on her before, and likely has more opportunities to stray since he’s finally gainfully employed as host of “The Sports Shuffle,” a TV talk show.
A little more difficult to discern are the subtle strains on the seemingly-perfect marriage of psychologist Pat (Janet Jackson) and architect Gavin (Malik Yoba), given that she’s a celebrated love guru with a best-seller “He’s Cheated, So Now What?” out on the market. However, we soon learn that even a mild-mannered shrink might need to blow off some steam after keeping her feelings about the death of her son bottled up inside for so many years. Last but not least, there’s Terry (Tyler Perry) and Dianne (Sharon Leal), whose relationship tension revolves around his suspicions that his workaholic, attorney spouse might be having an affair in spite of her perfectly plausible explanation for her whereabouts.
“Can this marriage be saved?” remains the running theme raised repeatedly in Why Did I Get Married Too, one of those rare sequels which is actually better than the original. Tyler Perry earns high marks for not only reassembling his entire principal cast, but for embroiling the talented ensemble in another compelling, modern morality play which feels as fresh as it is funny. The panoramic Caribbean location certainly helps, as does the addition of a few new faces, including Cicely Tyson, Lou Gossett, Jr. and a closing credits celebrity cameo it would be unfair to spoil.
As for standouts, scene-stealer Tasha Smith turns in another one of her trademark performances as the volatile Angela, a shrill banshee whose over-the-top antics keep you in stitches whenever she’s on camera. Equally-noteworthy is Janet Jackson, whose character’s deeper development afforded her an opportunity to stretch her acting range. When you factor in that the production went on hiatus after the passing of her brother, it makes her scenes, many of which were shot while grieving, that much more impressive.
Renaissance Man Perry proving he still has his finger on the pulse via yet another, madcap, marital melodrama apt to resonate with the collective conscious of the black community.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated: PG-13 for mature themes, sexuality, profanity, drug references and domestic violence.
Running time: 121 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Films