Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? is a sequel, but you don't need to have watched 2007's Why Did I Get Married? to understand what's going on. In fact, you barely need to watch this one to understand what's going on. In accordance with his usual style, Perry spells things out very clearly: This character is Good, that one is Eeeee-vil, these events are Happy, these events are Sad. Picture three weeks of daytime soap opera episodes, crammed into two hours.

The premise is that four well-to-do Atlanta couples take a retreat once a year to evaluate their marriages and improve their relationships. Terry (Tyler Perry) and Dianne (Sharon Leal) are blissfully happy, with two little kids at home. Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus (Michael Jai White) fight constantly, probably because he's a serial cheater and she's a belligerent lush. Patricia (Janet Jackson), a bestselling self-help author, and her husband, Gavin (Malik Yoba), appear to be happy but are obviously concealing something. And Sheila (Jill Scott) is here with her new husband, Troy (Lamman Rucker), a decent man who's a welcome replacement for her ex, the loathsome Mike (Richard T. Jones).

The four couples are in the Bahamas this year. (It was Colorado last time. In the winter. I don't know what they were thinking.) But no sooner have they arrived at their luxurious beach house than Mike the loathsome ex-husband shows up! What is HE doing here?? He says he owns part of the time-share -- apparently this is a time-share? -- and for some reason he insists on using it NOW, staying in the same house as the four couples, even though all four women and at least one of the men hate him, and even though being around his ex-wife makes him miserable. It doesn't make any sense. No one would do this. Mike wouldn't try it, and the others wouldn't stand for it. It's as contrived and moronic as any plot device I've seen this year. (To be fair, I haven't seen The Bounty Hunter.)

Comedy, or at least Perry's broad, sloppy version of it, is the focus during the first half of the film. One running joke is that Marcus, a TV sports commentator, speaks only in football metaphors, baffling the other guys. When it's clear that Mike will be staying, Marcus says, "We can run interference and keep Mike from scoring any points against the opposing team!" And the other men are like, "What the eff are you talking about?" First of all, I don't follow football, and I still understand what he means. Second of all -- what, NONE of these average, thirtysomething American men watch football? This joke keeps being repeated, and it never makes any sense.

The second half, when everyone's back in Atlanta, is when we get to the melodrama. This one thinks that one is cheating on him! This one is certain that one is cheating on her! These two are splitting up! This one is insecure about not being able to find a job, and irritated that his wife's ex-husband keeps hanging around! Here's some cancer! Here's some alcoholism! Would you care for a smattering of domestic violence? Don't mind if I do!

There's nothing inherently wrong with any of those story lines, of course. But Perry handles everything so amateurishly, with on-the-nose dialogue and a complete lack of subtlety or nuance. I marvel at the sheer lunacy of the scene where -- spoilers ahead -- a drunk Gavin harasses a weeping Patricia in the midst of their messy divorce, pours vodka on her, and then sets fire to the photo album containing the only remaining pictures of their dead child. In fact, someone should compile all of Gavin and Patricia's scenes, because their entire story line is off-the-rails insane. I almost want to tell you how it ends, just so you'll know how crazy it is.

OK, I will tell you. Big spoilers here. Skip this paragraph if you want to be surprised. With their divorce getting uglier and uglier, Patricia comes to Gavin's office with a giant cake, the kind that strippers pop out of. She makes all of Gavin's co-workers sing "Happy Birthday," even though it isn't his birthday. Then out of the cake comes a small, scantily clad gay man, singing "It's Raining Men." Patricia -- who, I should point out, is wearing a suit and tie for some reason -- has done this to humiliate her husband. Duly embarrassed, Gavin storms out of the office, pursued by a screeching Patricia, gets in his car, speeds out of the parking lot, smashes into a passing truck, and dies. In the epilogue, a year later, Patricia meets a new, awesome man played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The end. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Part of me wishes all of Why Did I Get Married Too? were as whacked-out as the Patricia/Gavin story, because then at least it would be campy fun. But most of the drama is much more tame and derivative than that (except for Angela and Marcus' fighting, which tends toward the farcical and pointless). Perry seems to be going through the motions on this one, repeating the platitudes and relationship angst that he's trotted out a half-dozen times already.