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Guess Who Review

By Shawn McKenzie 09/05/2005

I must have been just as burned out as Bernie Mac was when he made Guess Who.  In case you didn’t hear, FOX had to delay the start of the fourth season of his TV show, “The Bernie Mac Show,” until he could recover from sickness and exhaustion.  He had done three movies in a row (Mr. 3000, Ocean’s Twelve, and this one) and he needed a break.  Now…I’m not saying that I’m like Mac, but sometimes I can get a little behind.  I didn’t see the other two Mac movies, but I did see this one, and I remember it being cute.

Percy Jones (Mac) is a bank loan officer who has an interesting week ahead of him.  As he talks to his co-worker Reggie Watts (RonReaco Lee), he is stressing about his upcoming renewal vows for the celebration of his 25th anniversary with his wife Marilyn (Judith Scott.)  He isn’t happy about having to deal with Marilyn’s wedding coordinator, a flamboyant man named Dante (Robert Curtis-Brown) who claims that he is married himself (though Percy suspects otherwise.)  Percy is happy though, because he is finally going to meet the boyfriend of their New York City-based photographer daughter Theresa (Zoë Saldaña), who he heard is a successful black stockbroker.  Well…Theresa has lied…slightly.  Her boyfriend is a stockbroker, but he’s not black.  Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher), Theresa’s boyfriend, has lied too.  He is no longer successful, because he just quit his job on the same day that he and Theresa are supposed to meet her parents for the first time (you don’t find out why he quit his job until the end, and I’m not going to tell you why either.)  He hasn’t told Theresa this yet, and she hasn’t told him about her parents not knowing that he was white.  Yet they are going together to announce their engagement (obviously her secret will come out first.)  When they pull up to her parents’ house in Cranford, New Jersey, in a cab, Percy mistakes the black cab driver (Mike Epps) as being the new boyfriend.  They soon realize that Simon is the boyfriend, and Percy isn’t happy about it.  After he witnesses Theresa and Simon horse playing with her lingerie, Percy drives Simon to a hotel.  When Percy finds out that the room he had booked had already been taken, he makes Simon sleep in the basement…with him (so that he can make sure no hanky panky will go on.)  The next day, Simon tries to bond with Percy, but he ends up asking him for a loan of $5000.  Percy agrees to the loan, but only if he can beat him in a go-kart race (Simon had told Percy that he used to work for NASCAR at one time, and that he once met Jeff Gordon.)  The race ends in a draw, with both karts running into the street.  That night, they have dinner with Percy’s father Howard (Hal Williams) and Theresa’s sister Keisha (Kellee Stewart.)  Howard and Percy dare Simon to tell some “black jokes,” but one of them goes too far, and they are all offended.  Eventually, all the lies come out, and it becomes a showdown between the men and the women.  Theresa and Marilyn go to the home of Marilyn’s sister Darlene (Paula Newsome) and brother-in-law Marcus (Richard Lawson) to wait for their apologies (Theresa wants an apology about lying about quitting his job; Marilyn wants an apology for not finishing his vows.)  Percy and Simon need to settle their differences so that they can please their women and finally find some harmony.

I don’t know about 3000 or Twelve, but this movie was a good one for Mac.  It grossed over $67 million, which isn’t bad for a movie that didn’t have any special effects.  On the flipside, FOX has juggled his TV show around the schedule so much that I have a feeling that it won’t last much longer.  Anyway…this movie was better than I thought it would be.  It is a remake of the 1967 Oscar-nominated comedy-drama Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which earned Katharine Hepburn her first of two back-to-back Best Actress wins (the second was for 1968’s The Lion in Winter.)  They just simply reversed the races around (Sidney Poitier was the black boyfriend meeting Katharine Houghton’s white family for the first time.)  Virtually every other review I have read of this movie compared it to the 2000 movie Meet the Parents, but I didn’t even think of that movie when I originally saw it (though the comparison makes sense.)  If you think about it, Parents was a rip-off of Dinner, minus the racial issues, so I don’t care if they were similar.

Mac has had lots of critical praise, but Kutcher hasn’t.  He is one of those actors that all of the other critics love to hate.  I’m not one of them though.  Sure…he’s had a few stinkers, like Down to You and Dude, Where’s My Car? (both from 2000), but I think that he has grown as an actor.  I loved him in last year’s The Butterfly Effect, and he did a decent job in this year’s A Lot Like Love.  I don’t think that FOX’s “That ‘70s Show” will be the same without him (he is only scheduled to appear this season in a few episodes.)  He has also become a successful producer.  He is the executive producer for two hit shows, MTV’s “Punk’d” (which he also hosts) and the WB’s “Beauty and the Geek” (which has been picked up for a second season.)  Like critical punching bag Adam Sandler, I don’t understand the hatred.  Kutcher had some good chemistry with both Mac and Saldaña in it.

I don’t see a lot of movies on Mac’s slate coming up soon, so I hope that he can get back to his TV show.  His work on Guess Who was great, and even though I’m getting really burned out by remakes, I liked it.  It wasn’t a perfect movie, but it wasn’t bad, and there have been a lot of bad remakes this year alone.  It isn’t the fact that they made a remake to Dinner that puzzles me…it’s that it took this long for it to get made, because I think that the racial-reversal-remake idea is a good one.  The DVD isn’t too packed.  It has a “making of” featurette, commentary by director Kevin Rodney Sullivan, seven deleted scenes, a gag reel…and that’s about it.  You’ll like it though, because it is worth the price of purchase or rental.

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