Why Did I Get Married Too?/Just Wright
By Franz Jones
Before I get started writing about these two recently viewed films, I wanted to comment on something I just read on an online newspaper site. A fourteen-year-old girl was just stabbed to death in her home about a day ago by her mother’s on-again, off-again homeless boyfriend. Evidently, this man thought the mother was too lax in her discipline of her daughter (not his daughter), and he found the situation intolerable. In the ensuing argument the mother vacated the premises, leaving her four children unattended. Afterwards the man forced the mother’s sister (the children’s aunt) to leave as well, so that he was the only adult in the house. The man argued with the teenaged girl and allegedly stabbed her 20 times with a kitchen knife in full view of her nine-year-old sister (his daughter). The younger child called 911, gave a full description of the suspect to the police, and he was apprehended later that evening.
What does this have to do with either of these films? Well in the case of Tyler Perry’s recently released Why Did I Get Married Too?, I was struck by the fact that the majority of his films are usually cautionary morality plays that seem to want to instruct the audience on what might be the “proper” or even “Christian” way to go about one’s life. While this is indeed a noble thesis upon which to build a spate of moviemaking, he only seems to work within certain limited perimeters. In this case the duty of wives to husbands and vice versa, commitment to Jesus Christ, and how African American women might need to readjust their thinking in order to find that Holy Grail – “a good man.”
I was thinking about what a case like this could illustrate in terms of real morality, the idea that this mother took a man into her home who was obviously not the kind of person to be around her young children, and THEN to leave those children abandoned in the home alone with an already imbalanced person strikes me as highly immoral, and yet someone like Tyler Perry doesn’t choose some of these subjects to educate his audience on a more decent and humane way to live. Perhaps if he highlighted the concept of “critical thinking” in his films, then he could really get about the business of EDUCATING, ENLIGHTENING, and entertaining his audience.
I’m just saying....
Anyway, to the films at hand....
I saw the previously released Why Did I Get Married?, and while I found it a lightly entertaining comedy-drama, I didn’t think it would move the cause of African American moviemaking further in any significant way. Therefore I was very surprised when he chose to produce a sequel.
As sequels go this film is neither any worse nor any better than the glut of
I’m just asking....
Just Wright is a charming little comedy in which Queen Latifah plays a rabid sports fan who also happens to be a physical therapist, and in a serendipitous moment gets to meet and connect with her all time favorite basketball player. In the “meet cute” scenario, he is unable to find the gas tank on his new luxury vehicle in a self-serve gas station (Oh my! NBA players pump their own gas! Who knew!), and she is able to assist him. In thanks, he invites her to his big party, she brings her beautiful but empty and calculating best friend, THEY fall in love, and the Queen is left out in the cold. BUT WAIT! All is NOT lost! Because of an on-court accident the Queen becomes his physical therapist, and as they say the rest is “history.”
Romantic comedies like this have been produced since the advent of film as a medium, and unless they are truly ineptly produced, they often provide a charming respite from the usual “strum and drum” of most major movies. They are also usually the perfect fodder for “date night,” women love them, and men tolerate them. Just Wright is no exception. Queen Latifah’s growth from a hip-hop artist into a top-lined movie actress is one of the rare pleasant occasions observed in recent film history. That she is capable of so much more is evident, and I think as time goes forward we will see her spread her wings in a variety of directions in terms of the kinds of roles she will play.
The real surprise here is Common. Often in recent movies he is used as a thug, assassin, or some other kind of shady character, but here he demonstrates an easy charm, warm smile, twinkling eye, and just the right (or is that “wright”?) kind of affable presence to move into more leading man roles. If he continues to grow he might become a creature we rarely really see in African American films – a true ROMANTIC leading man. (Before you start, Denzel doesn’t really play romantic leads.)
If you and your girlfriend, boyfriend, auntie, mother, father or children want to share a movie-going experience some evening then this film is “Just Wright”!
I’m just saying....