by Tony Medley
I wanted to like this movie
because I liked the idea, a remake of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
(1967) with the races switched. And I have liked Ashton Kutcher the few
times I’ve seen him. But the best thing about the film is that it shows
blacks in a positive light. So many mainstream Hollywood films stereotype
blacks as hoodlums or hip hop jerks or illiterate, jive talking
ignoramuses. Here’s a film that reflects blacks in America as upwardly
mobile, ambitious, admirable, educated people who speak with proper
grammar, which is probably a much more accurate picture than what we
normally get. I really wanted to like this.
While there are some good
moments in this, some where I actually laughed, there aren’t enough of
them. And like most modern movies, this one is just too long, at 1:45.
While that’s only 7 minutes longer than the original, the original did
have screen legends Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier,
and was directed by Stanley Kramer. “Guess Who” has Kutcher and Bernie
Mac, and is directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan, who did “Barbershop 2” one
of the worst films I saw last year. Brevity would have been a virtue.
What this film lacks, in
addition to a real funny script (David Ronn & Jay Scherick and Peter
Tolan, which are too many names), is pace. It just drags along. A comedy
has to have a laugh a minute, like “Freaky Friday” (2003) and “Meet the
Fockers” (2004). In this one the laughs are few and far between.
Percy Jones (Mac) is an upper
middle class father of two daughters who anticipates that his beloved
daughter Theresa (a gorgeous Zoë Saldaña) will marry a cross between
Denzell Washington, Colin Powell, and Tiger Woods. What he gets is Simon
Green (Kutcher), an out of work white guy who has a problem telling the
truth. Percy, a conscientious bank loan officer, is not happy and does not
Unfortunately, unlike the
brilliant original, it totally avoids logic. When Theresa brings Simon
home to meet her folks, they are originally assigned to the same bedroom.
But shortly thereafter Percy walks in on them and finds them in a
compromising position. So Percy hits the roof and banishes Simon from her
room. Let’s see, Percy knew that Simon and Theresa were going to share her
bedroom. Then he walks in on them and finds them doing things that men and
women do when they are sharing a bedroom and he gets upset? What was he
expecting? This “joke” is the mainstay for the rest of the movie, which
might explain why it basically falls flat.
While I was disappointed, it
could have been because my expectations were high. Regardless, this has
some funny parts. The acting is uniformly good, even if the pace is
faltering, the directing marred, and the script ludicrous. I squirmed a
lot and looked at my watch a lot.
March 16, 2005