The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Guess Who

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Judy Thorburn

Guess Who

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

FUNNY “GUESS WHO" – MEETS THE BLACK PARENTS

It’s been thirty-eight years since Stanley Kramer’s 1967 Oscar winning, controversial racial drama “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was released. Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn starred as white parents shocked to find out their daughter’s fiancé is a young black man played by Sidney Poitier.  Who would have ever thought that three decades later someone would turn the tables on that premise and re-imagine and rework it as a romantic comedy no less, starring Bernie Mac, as the proud black Dad and Ashton Kutcher, as his daughter’s white husband to be?  Obviously, three writers: David Ronn, Jay Sherick and Peter Tolan did.

First let me say, I am not a big fan of Ashton, Demi Moore’s boy toy.  I find him to be a big goof ball and don’t see any of his appeal whatsoever.  In fact, I liked The Butterfly Effect, but thought he was miscast as the lead and almost ruined the movie for me with his over the top, laughable performance in what was supposed to be a serious acting turn.  So, to see Ashton downplay his shtick, and make it work in a role that demands some fun and silliness while still being engaging, was a pleasant surprise. Add to that his unexpected well-matched head to head with Bernie Mac in situations that tickled my funny bone, and a cast of characters that lack the typical ethnic stereotypes. What a refreshing surprise!

The plot is set into motion when white boy Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher) goes along with his beautiful black girlfriend Theresa (Zoe Saldana, The Terminal) to visit her upscale parents who are planning a party in celebration of their 25th wedding vows.  Meanwhile, these young lovers have a few secrets that no doubt will eventually come out – some sooner than later.  Simon hasn’t told Theresa that he has just quit his great job on Wall Street and Theresa’s parents have no idea that, as Simon puts it, he is “pigment challenged”. But, Mom, Marilyn (Judith Scott) is cool with her daughter’s choice in men and is more interested in teaching her husband how to dance the tango in time for the party.  Dad, Percy (Bernie Mac), on the other hand, is shocked and less than a happy camper when he finds his daughter has brought home a white dude instead of someone along the lines of Denzel Washington.  However, Percy, in trying to keep this a secret from a co-worker at the bank where he works in charge of the loan department, tells Reggie (RonReaco Lee) that Theresa’s boyfriend is a “brother” named Jamal. You get the drift.

Actually, Guess Who starts looking a lot more like a black version of Meet the Parents than the film that was its inspiration. Think Robert DeNiro’s role as the suspicious and distrustful soon to be father in law and you’ve got the picture of what Simon is in for when Percy Jones puts him through the wringer.

Simon tries to impress Percy by saying that he knew Jeff Gordon and was a pit boy at Nascar. But, that backfires when Percy puts Simon to the test racing bumper cars at the Grand Prix Speed Zone, which of course, makes for a funny sequence that ends with an awkward but amusing run in with the law. That’ s one of the many instances where Simon is put on the spot or caught in compromising situations that are visually or verbally funny as a result of the obvious culture clash.  A particular standout is the scene at the dinner table where Simon is forced to tell inappropriate black jokes. You just know this has got to be a set up for trouble when one of the jokes goes over line and Simon is labeled a racist by Percy’s father Howard (Hal Williams).

I could have done without the contrived black and white songs like ebony and ivory that just happens to pop up on the car radio at just the appropriate time. But, how can you not laugh at the body images of Percy spooning and cuddling with Simon on his basement’s couch bed. It is really quite hilarious!

No matter what Simon does, he can’t win trying to fit in as part of the Jones family. But, without telling all, when both guys are faced with a problem that puts them on common ground, they eventually come to a mutual understanding, respect and like for each other.

Predictable as it may be, Guess Who is definitely enjoyable thanks to an appealing cast and a chemistry that works all around.  Saldana, believable in her pairing with Kutcher, is a mixture of beauty, smarts and strength as the daughter who loves and wants to please her father but has a mind of her own. Needless to say, Bernie knows how to work those eyes that says it all, and he always comes through with perfect comic timing.

While Guess Who may lack the serious edge of the old movie that inspired it, and goes off on a new storyline direction, this updated lighter take still confronts those same important issues of intolerance, prejudice and racial intermarriage without stooping to the usual clichés or vulgarity prevalent in so many so called “hip” racial comedies.

Guess what?  As if you couldn’t tell by now, I think Guess Who is a fun crowd pleaser with a message. That’s my recommendation as plain as black and white.