At a time when most films do not tackle heavy marital issues, director and writer Tyler Perry provides strong relationship advice in his fourth feature film. “Why Did I Get Married?” – adapted from his hit stage play of the same title – even beat out films starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, taking in more than $21 million.

From left to right: Tasha Smith, Janet Jackson and Sharon Leal star in “Why did I get Married?”

Similar to his previous films, “Madea’s Family Reunion” and “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “Why Did I Get Married?” centers around the struggles in families and relationships and how to work to keep them together.

Eight married college friends, who take a trip to the snowcapped mountains of Colorado for their annual couple’s retreat, bring along their own sets of problems, ranging from lack of communication to infidelity.

Janet Jackson portrays a psychologist and best-selling author Patricia Agnew, who gives sound advice for all her friends’ relationships without confronting the problems of her own. The movie begins in a college lecture hall with a question-and-answer session for Agnew’s book titled “Why Did I Get Married?” – a plot device which introduces the couples to the audience.

Perry stars in the film as Terry, alongside a star-studded cast including recording artist Jill Scott as an overweight wife whose life is wrapped around her husband, Mike (Richard T. Jones ), who constantly insults her about her weight.

Scott’s character is an excellent portrayal of someone dealing with body image issues that many women face today, as the butt of all of her husband’s fat jokes. Her friends are protective of her and become enraged when they discover her husband made her drive to Colorado from Georgia after she was asked by the flight attendant to deplane “because someone her size has to purchase two tickets.”

Also starring in the film is Malik Yoba, from the 1990s TV series “New York Undercover,” as Jackson’s husband, and Tasha Smith (Angela) as the feisty and controversial wife who brings laughs to the movie.

The film overall is a bit melodramatic and more emotional than expected. It also has a fairy-tale ending and religious aspects as in Perry’s other movies, but proves films can be made about love and relationships without vulgar language and racy scenes. The plot moves quickly though, as the scenes jump from couple to couple, but it is easy to tell each pair apart because of their own distinctive dysfunction.

Perry establishes himself as a bankable director who addresses identifiable issues in the home and gives witty insight without sugar coating it.

Heather Hope can be reached at