Janet Jackson and Jill Scott ask, “Why Did I Get Married?”


Tyler Perry’s Why

Did I Get Married?
— the film adaptation of Perry’s stage

play of the same name — opens in theaters today. And for the

first time ever, I plan to actually pay money to see a Tyler Perry film.

Janet Jackson costars in the movie with the tricky little

title. And by “tricky,” I mean that one has to be careful when reading the title out loud and answering

it out loud within earshot of one’s life partner, or it may become the

inspiration for a sequel titled Tyler Perry’s How Did Your

Ass End Up Sleeping on the Couch for a Week?!

Having Janet

Jackson as part of the ensemble cast gives the film version an immediate

crossover (from exclusively black to a more general audience)

appeal and a publicity push.

My interest in the film is

not solely because Jackson is part of the ensemble (that’s a large part

though). The film also costars Jill Scott, who is a favorite poet, songwriter,

singer of mine. Wow. Janet Jackson and Jill Scott in the same film?

That’s a must-see for me. Yes, I know that without a doubt I’d prefer

to listen to them both on an album collaboration together, rather than

acting on screen together in a Tyler Perry film, but still. I must. When

I pay the $50,000 for my movie ticket (that’s what a movie ticket cost

these days, right?) I’m doing it primarily for the sistahs.

The movie tells the story

of four married couples, college friends, who gather annually for a

week-long reunion. But as the synopsis warns, "the

cozy mood is shattered when the group comes face-to-face with one pair’s

infidelity. As secrets are revealed, each couple begins questioning

the validity of their own marriage. Over the course of the weekend,

husbands and wives take a hard look at their lives, wrestling with issues

of commitment, betrayal and forgiveness as they seek a way forward."

Whoa … there’s going to be some drama, y’all. Even the synopsis is long-winded

and detailed and drama-filled. Frankly, the movie seems a tad too melodramatic

for my taste, as are most of Perry’s films. (I’ve watched a couple while

channel-surfing over the years.)

For those who are unaware

of Tyler Perry, he is well known in African-American popular culture.

He’s actually best known for a woman he transforms into for many of

his stage plays (some of which have been made into movies). To some, Mabel "Madea"

is better

known than Tyler Perry himself, and that might just be why Perry tends

to use his own name in the title of most of his ventures. So six-foot-five-inch Tyler Perry dresses in drag and doles out the comic wisdom of an

elderly Grandmother type — but he has at times been accused of being mildly

homophobic in his joke telling as Madea, all the while of course being

suspected of being gay himself.

He made his name writing

plays and turning those plays into films. But the type of drama that

works on stage does not always translate to the screen, mainly

because the axiom for movie writing is "show don’t tell." The same cannot be said for stage writing; often the plot point "reveals"

come by way of dialogue because there is such physical confinement in

theatre. Perry does not seem to care about the apparent lack of respect shown towards his plays-turned-into-films

by the professional critics. He doesn’t care all the way to the bank,

and I can just picture Madea driving the Brinks truck right up to the

teller’s window for withdrawals and deposits.

I’m also supporting the film

with my paid attendance because it has a predominantly black cast, and

from what I can tell, there is not a gang member, prostitute, pimp or

parolee among the group! Imagine that! But getting back to the largest

motivation for my interest, it’s good to see Janet Jackson back on screen,

rather than merely her malfunctioning breast.

Goodness, one would have

thought that the woman’s breasts caused war, famine, homelessness and

illiteracy! Of course, I would have preferred her return to the screen

in something other than what I am assuming will be a melodrama with

stilted dialogue, but at least she is on screen and not fading into the

sunset. She’s too talented for that. She has grown up in front of our

eyes. Good Times still replays on TV Land, and seeing

little "Penny Gordon" turn 41 confirms that Jackson

was not a flash in the pan, or just a cute little face, or just well

known because she was born into a famous family. I find Jackson to be

an excellent triple-threat entertainer.

There are not many African-American

female superstars at the moment, and in my opinion, Jackson still tops

the list. (Of course, her brother could have shared that honor with

her, having been born an African-American, but somehow he grew up to

be a Caucasian woman!) Oh, I’m only kidding, everyone; calm down! In all

seriousness, in order for Janet Jackson to remain there at the top, she

must make movies, or do TV, and make albums and perform live. Janet

Jackson has lived under the media’s eye and its fickle scrutiny her

entire life, and she has proven to me that her talent has both exceeded

her hype and silenced her detractors.

So here’s hoping that

Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? will once again show

why Jackson is still beloved by many. Aside from Jackson, Scott and

Perry, the film also stars Denise Boutte, Sharon Leal,

Malik Yoba
, Tasha Smith, Richard T. Jones, Lamman

and Michael Jai White. It was written and directed

by Perry and is being released through Lions Gate Films. If you get

a chance to see it, post your thoughts in the comments.

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