Directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan ("How Stella Got Her Groove
Written by David Ronn, Jay Scherick and Peter Tolan.
Starring Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher, Zoe Saldana and Judith
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 3/29/05
"Guess Who", the new comedy based
ever-so-loosely on the Sidney Poitier drama "Guess Who's Coming to
Dinner", has some funny moments, a good lead pairing in Bernie Mac
and Ashton Kutcher, and a storyline that moves things along quickly
as we come to the "Of course we can all get along" conclusion.
But, why didn't I like this film more?
Simon (Kutcher) and his new fiancée Theresa
(Zoe Saldana) are a happy, interracial couple living in New York
City...and, they're about to go meet Theresa's parents to announce
their engagement. Simon is scared to death, not only because
he has just quit his high-paying job at an investment firm downtown
but because Theresa's dad, Percy (Bernie Mac), doesn't seem like the
kind, caring type--we first see Percy in a still picture in Simon's
apartment yelling at a referee during a youth-league basketball game
that Theresa's team was winning.
And, of course, Simon's a little worried
that Theresa hasn't told her father that she's dating a white guy.
Just a little.
As someone that can speak first-hand about
what it really feels like to meet the parents of a person you are
dating that is not of the same race, "Guess Who" even as a comedy
brings back some of the hard memories of seeing parents react to the
choices their daughter has made. That's what makes the
conversation points that Percy has with his wife (played by Judith
Scott) so good or why watching Grandpa overreact to Theresa's
decision to not date any black guys in New York City so funny.
Obviously, the route that Simon takes in winning the trust of Percy
over the course of the movie is a bit extreme at times--showing him
how to dance the tango or to try and beat him at go kart racing--but
the curve behind accepting a person not based on race but on the
ability to make the daughter happy is the part that I enjoyed the
most about the movie.
But, since "Guess Who" is played strictly
for laughs, I was kind of hoping it would be, well, funnier...and,
it's not. I don't remember laughing out loud at all; there are
no truly great, hilarious scenes in the film, but there are a lot of
amusing sequences. The black jokes at the dinner table bit was
amusing. Watching Percy and Simon react to songs like "Ebony &
Ivory" playing on the radio: amusing. Watching Percy try to
apologize to his wife near the end of the film: amusing. But,
none of it is the kind of comedy you might expect from a pairing
like Kutcher and Mac; it is just a little too lukewarm for my
Saldana and Kutcher do make for a very
believable, good-looking, compatible couple, and I thought the best
performer in the film was Scott as the wife of Percy; she was
fantastic and the kind of woman you could believe could keep Percy
in check whenever he got a little too touchy with Theresa's suitors.
The ending of "Guess Who" was great, and the outtakes were kinda
cool, too. Again, though...the film almost screams mediocrity
to me, and this is reflected even in those outtakes, where we get
the typical all-the-characters-suddenly-feel-the-need-to-dance bit.
Why wasn't that funnier?
Very average film. But, there are good
enough reasons to catch this in the theater, especially in a packed
house where you get a few more laughs for your buck by listening to
other people laugh at some of these jokes.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard