By Jen Chaney
Saturday, April 3, 2010; C03
Let's say that alien beings came to Earth on a mission to learn about marriage among humans. Let's also say those aliens chose to base their education on "Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?"
Here's what the ETs would assume about what's involved in the daily struggle to remain husband and wife: Lots of yelling. Routinely suspecting and/or accusing your spouse of having affairs. And joining fellow married friends on annual, opulent vacations involving copious alcohol consumption and endless gossip about everyone's relationship woes, followed by additional yelling.
In other words, "Why Did I Get Married Too?" covers pretty much the same histrionic territory as Perry's 2007 picture "Why Did I Get Married?," picking up our core group of attractive, dysfunctional African American couples three years after we last left them in snowy Colorado. This time they gather for relaxation and renewal in the Bahamas, at a beach house so massive and Pottery Barn-catalogue-stunning, it makes Angela Bassett's pad in "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" look like a thatched hut.
As in the prequel, most of the comedy comes from the most volatile of the four pairs: the lunkheaded Marcus (Michael Jai White) and the wife you can hear coming from 99 miles away, Angela (Tasha Smith). For the first hour or so, "Married Too" -- which, in Perry tradition, did not screen in advance for critics -- plays like an empty but diverting beach read. Your brain recognizes that the dialogue, for example, doesn't come from any place that remotely resembles relationship reality.
(At one point, Marcus actually says, "Why did I get married?" to which Angela responds: "Why did I get married, too?" Why, to create a movie sequel title, of course!)
But the film is so pretty to look at, and its soap opera-style plotlines -- especially the one involving the always empathetic Jill Scott as Sheila, a recently remarried new mom attempting to emotionally support an unemployed husband -- are just engaging enough to hold our interest. Then everyone leaves the Bahamas, and the film shifts in tone: Janet Jackson, who made this movie while grieving the death of brother Michael, takes center stage as the mad black woman whose repressed anguish over the long-ago death of her only child threatens to blow up her perfectly picture-framed marriage.
Translation: If you happen to live with Janet Jackson in a house filled with a ludicrous amount of glass furniture and you really, really tick her off, do not let that woman anywhere near a set of golf clubs.
Perry throws in melodramatic plot twist after melodramatic plot twist in the last 10 minutes, all of which serves as a heart-tugging preamble to a surprise, movie-closing cameo appearance that drew gasps and giggles from the audience at an early morning screening in Georgetown.
It's an ending not just from left field, but from outer space.
PG-13. Contains thematic material including sexuality, language, drug references and some domestic violence. At area theaters. 121 minutes.