“Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?,� review by Susan Granger

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Tyler Perry is a cultural phenomenon as creator of a hugely successful series of formulaic, Christian-themed, sin-and-redemption movies, specifically targeted at an affluent African-American audience. And ever since his movie debut, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” his films have not been screened for critics – hence, the delayed review.

In this latest, set at an annual retreat in a Rocky Mountain resort, four married couples, and friends since college days, delve into the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s marriages. There’s a well-meaning romance psychologist/author (singer Janet Jackson), married to an award-winning architect (Malik Yoba of TVs “New York Undercover”); a sassy, hard-drinking beauty tycoon (Tasha Smith) with her confrontational, VD-infected husband (Michael Jai White); and a workaholic, BlackBerry-obsessed lawyer (Sharon Leal of “Dreamgirls”) who’s ambivalent about motherhood and her pediatrician husband (played by Perry). But the central couple is a despicable philanderer (Richard T. Jones) and his self-effacing, obese wife (singer Jill Scott), whose girth gets her booted from her airplane in the film’s opening sequence – because they bring along a “friend” (Denise Boutte).

Blending comedy with melodrama, Tyler Perry achieves a tad more subtlety than in his preachy, stereotypical “Madea” films, even “Daddy’s Little Girls,” aided in great part by the effective acting ensemble and Toyomichi Kurita’s cinematography. But his strong, sexy female characters are still too shrill and obvious in their evangelical instincts and the men are, inevitably, wayward.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?” is a compassionate, therapeutic 5. In Perry’s cliché-filled scenarios, nearly all white characters are depicted as conscious or unconscious bigots, which is a shame – in this day and age – since relationship issues are not delineated along racial lines.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.