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Real commitment

Movies | Tyler Perry film takes marriage, and its audience, seriously

Issue: "States' rights," Oct. 27, 2007

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? (rated PG-13 for mature themes, sexual references, and some language) begs for an answer to the title question. While the comedy/drama may not provide an immediate reply, Tyler Perry (who produced, directed, wrote, and acted in this adaptation of his stage play by the same name) offers his prescription for a happy marriage: respect, communication, honesty, and selfless love. Oh, and take God seriously.

The movie opens with psychologist and author Patricia (Janet Jackson) fielding questions about her book (with the same title as the film) from a collegiate audience. The book is about four couples, friends since college, who get together once a year to work on their marriages. Then, directly after her talk, Patricia and her architect husband Gavin (Malik Yoba) head to Colorado to spend a week in a mountain cabin with their friends.

The idyllic setting belies the turmoil that will ensue. Perry's cast of professional, African-American couples all face crises in their marriages, ranging from a workaholic spouse to infidelity to the death of a child.

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Although the content is serious, the middle section of the film plays up elements of farce and slapstick, as characters try to spare each other the embarrassment of discovering painful secrets. Ultimately, those secrets refuse to stay hidden. Each of the characters must deal with the hurtful consequences of dishonesty, and reconciliation comes with a price. Characters grow in fits and spurts, or sometimes not at all. While the acting is sometimes stilted, the message comes across loud and clear: You must take responsibility for your actions and ownership of your marriage vows.

Like its cast, African-Americans comprise the vast majority of this movie's audience. They continue to support Perry's Christian, values-oriented movies that beat out more mainstream Hollywood offerings in their first-weekend box-office takes.

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