Reuniting the cast of his 2007 marital dramedy, Why Did I Get Married?, prolific writer/producer/director Tyler Perry warms things up in this sequel that further explores the life and relationships of a group of regular vacation-mates who always end up examining the state of their unions. Easygoing effort at times feels over-baked and too full of Perry’s now-trademarked melodramatics, but nevertheless should hit squarely at the target audience of the older African-American women that can’t seem to get enough of what this director dishes out. Expect solid box office returns perhaps even surpassing the $55 million domestic gross of the original.
Helming his ninth film since 2005, the busy Mr. Perry chooses to revisit the upscale African-American married couples he profiled just two years ago, but now moves the vacation spot from the cold climes of Colorado to the hot beaches of the Bahamas with the results predictably more of the same—it’s just what his audience wants, after all. The biggest change in these lives revolves around Sheila’s (Jill Scott) new marriage to the financially strapped Troy (Lamman Rucker), one that becomes challenged with the unexpected intrusion of her ex, the much despised Michael (Richard T. Jones), who seems determined to break up the happy pair. Also back are the comic relief couple Marcus (Michael Jai White) and Angela (Tasha Smith), who battle in airports and islands and once again get most of Perry’s best lines. The source of their problems this time is Angela’s suspicion of Marcus’ infidelity, as he’s become a celebrity TV news broadcaster since last we saw the pair. Then there’s the volatile Patricia (Janet Jackson), a successful “self-help” psychologist who seems to be able to help everybody but herself, especially with the deepening chasm in her marriage to Gavin (Malik Yoba), the shadow of a child’s death still hovering in the background. Rounding out the main foursome are Dianne (Sharon Leal) and Terry (Perry) who seem a bit overwhelmed with career and child rearing to the point where it’s causing the spark to go out of their marriage.
Although the film occasionally veers uneasily between silly comedy and overreaching dramatic crescendos (especially with Jackson’s character), Perry mostly knows what he’s aiming for and gets it onscreen thanks to a sterling cast that is growing increasingly comfortable in these shoes. Best known as a jazz singer, Scott is surprisingly adept as an actress and deftly navigates the choppy waters between her conniving ex and her needy new hubby, both well-played by Jones and Rucker (respectively). Jackson gets to run the gamut and winds up socking home the big emotional moments Perry’s script supplies. Yoba gives as good as he gets, too. Perry, out of his Madea drag outfit for a change, works well opposite the appealing Leal, while Smith and Jai White are good laugh getters. Also in for a brief cameo are vets Louis Gossett Jr. and Cicely Tyson who play a long married couple that dish out thoughts on how to make a marriage really work.
Although he doesn’t show his hand, the ending clearly posits more cinematic vacations for this group and that’s probably a good thing, at least from Lionsgate’s point of view.
Cast: Tyler Perry, Janet Jackson, Sharon Leal, Malik Yoba, Michael Jai White, Tasha Smith, Jill Scott, Richard T. Jones, Lamman Rucker, Cicely Tyson and Louis Gossett Jr.
Director/Screenwriter: Tyler Perry
Producers: Reuben Cannon and Tyler Perry
Rating: PG-13 for thematic material including sexuality, language, drug references and some domestic violence.
Running time: 124 min.
Release date: April 2, 2010