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By the time the characters are at the cabin, it's pretty clear to me that there's another trait in his movies pushing me away – a trait I hadn't picked up on in the trailers or anything I'd read about him to point – Tyler Perry movies are essentially chick flicks. About 40 minutes into the movie, I realize that perhaps my instinctive disinterest in his work has more to do with sex than race. For the same reason I don't keep up with Harlequin romance novels, I'm not interested in Perry's work.
The female characters are the emotional focus of Why Did I Get Married? and much better developed than the men, who are just two-dimensional eye candy.
Scenes of the female characters talking among themselves are lively. Scenes of the men talking among themselves are wooden – not because the actors are bad (they're not), but because the dialogue is stilted and awkward. We're talking porn-movie bad.
Why Did I Get Married? gives the impression that Perry doesn't often hang out with men in social settings – and that if he does, he's not paying attention to how they talk to one another.
The group acknowledges that men are not Perry's target audience. "I don't think there's a whole bunch of guys who are gonna be like, 'I gotta go see the new Tyler Perry movie,'" Chanté says.
"In other films, he presents the man of your dreams. Never the woman of your dreams," Tiffany says.
"You've seen his plays," Ed says. "The audience is primarily single, black women."
"My thought before watching this movie was, 'Is the reason Tyler Perry's work doesn't connect with me that I'm not black?'" I say. "Now, I'm thinking the reason it doesn't connect with me is that I'm a man."
"I think you're right," Chanté says. "I've got female friends who are not black who are all about this movie."
As the DVD continues, it's clear that while I'm not contemplating suicide, I just can't get into this movie. The only character I genuinely like is Angie, a loudmouthed drunk played by Tasha Smith. She's extraordinarily cruel to her husband, but has great comic rhythm and timing. The rest of the characters are just annoying.
Perry wants us to feel sympathy for Jill Scott because her husband is cruel to her and cheating on her because she's overweight. But her character's defining trait isn't her weight; it's that she's a simpering nitwit – unaware of her husband's obvious infidelity. All she seems to do is grimace and look to God to help her through her difficulties.
Once again, my thoughts were not shared by my fellow viewers.
"It makes this movie and Tyler Perry engaging to a certain audience," Chanté says. "If you have that background, or if you've been in situations like that, and you rely on your faith to get you through certain things, you look at that, you know exactly what she feels like. I have talked to God in the car before."
"Exactly," Tiffany says.
Ed makes the point that Tyler Perry's audience is not just about single black women. "It's for avid church-goers," he says. "He's brought church-goers into the mainstream, where they have movies and plays to go to where they feel safe."
"I perceive that it's there," I say. "But it totally goes by me. I don't relate to that at all."
"What are your spiritual beliefs?" Ed asks.
"I don't have any."
"I think that has some relevance because everyone is talking about their religious connection [to the movie] and you don't have one," he says.
"The overt Christianity of it, the turning to faith to help you through a problem, is not how I relate to the world," I say.
"All of his films have a faith-based concept in them," Kenisha says.
"The reason why I like this movie is because there isn't that much [religion] in this one," Chanté says.
The discussion continued, but after that, my mind was made up. If Why Did I Get Married? is Tyler Perry's best movie and the least overtly religious, how am I ever going to get into any of his other ones?
The answer is I'm not.
Tyler, I tried. I really did. But your movies aren't hitting me because you're not aiming at me. I'm not a hater. I'm just a 34-year-old, off-white, not-religious man who doesn't have any relationship angst he needs soothed. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
Diff'rent Strokes. Now that was a good show.
Featuring: Andisheh Nouraee, Chante LaGon, Kenisha Allen and Tiffany Roman.
Credit: Produced and Edited by Edward Adams / Video courtesy Lionsgate Films
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