GUESS WHO (2005)


Directed By: Kevin Rodney Sullivan
Written By: David Ronn, Jay Scherick & Peter Tolan
Story By: David Ronn & Jay Scherick
Based on The Original Screenplay “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER” By: William Rose
Cinematography By: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Editor: Paul Seydor 


Cast: Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher, Zoe Saldana, Judith Scott, Hal Williams, RonReaco Lee, Sherri Shepherd, Niecy Nash, Paula Newsome, Phil Reeves, Nicole Sullivan, Jessica Cauffiel, Kimberly Scott, Richard Lawson 

Percy and Marilyn are renewing their vows for their anniversary, and their daughter Theresa brings her boyfriend Simon for them to meet. Unbeknownst to her parents, the kids plan to announce their engagement during the weekend. The Jones family is Black; Theresa neglects to tell them Simon is White. Race complicates Percy’s general mistrust of any boyfriend, so he instigates an investigation of Simon, discovering he’s recently lost his job and hasn’t told Theresa. Mistrust rears its ugly head, and in the process of Theresa and Simon’s argument, Marilyn and Percy fall out. What can the men do to cross the divide between each other and between men and women? Will anyone be exchanging vows?

This loose remake of the acclaimed racial drama GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER. It a complete disappointment.

First of all the film reverses the races of the characters. So that it is a white man trying to convince a black family mostly a black father to accept him and that he is good enough for their daughter. Now while this is partly commendable. Watching an Caucasian tries to please a successful black family it is also a bit insulting by making the audience see Bernie Max’s character as a villain an incompetent one for half the film before coming around.

What weakens the film and makes it more lighthearted is that the relationship angle seems more a means to an end and in the back burner. Most of the film then becomes a lighthearted romp where the two Characters try to basically sabotage and beat one another until it then soon slips into a buddy comedy, once they both end up in the dog house with their perspective mates. Ashton Kutcher suggested that his character be Jewish, to add another dimension to his conflict with the Christian Percy Jones. The idea was scrapped because the filmmakers wanted to focus on the issue of interracial romance rather than also looking into the interfaith issue.

It’s understandable the filmmakers wanted to try to entice the audience with a social issues that wasn’t as important in modern times and used that to basically make a toothless buddy comedy.

It feels like any controversy not to mention any string points that could be made. Are drained and pretty much erased for silly slapstick and if that is what you seek and come for then this is the film for you. The trailers made it look that way but one was hoping there would be a shred of an opinion or even an argument but not here.

It’s bad enough in the original that the African American man who wants to marry the Caucasian woman has to be a damn near saint to Marry her and to even be seen as equal even though she is mostly a flighty young lady who has dropped out of college. So that the film barely acknowledges but mentions maybe he isn’t good enough for her. Which maybe every parent feels now and the. But that film plays it more as a racial disparity.

Which could have been the reasoning here, but it seems the film is more interested in having the two men the young lady loves most in life compete for her to follow what they want. Instead of just letting the father coming face to face with some of his own prejudices and with reason and coming to grips with the fact that no one will ever be good enough. Instead the film cheapens the original and conceit I understand times have changed but it can still be a strong issue.

So then this film comes off as an extended sitcom we have seen before on many different shows and networks. It also stifles Bernie Mac by kind of caging him when he is best left unfiltered which is one of his comedic strengths. Now looking at the previews you know the film won’t have as much strength and bite but this is still a major letdown.

Something we should have known seeing Ashton Kutcher cast. As usual when he is in a film it loses any authenticity and bite as well as enjoyment it might have once had.

Grade: D

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