Guess Who Movie Review

Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher), an anxious, young businessman, is about to journey with his girlfriend, Theresa (Zoe Saldana), to meet her parents for the first time. They also intend to announce their recent engagement, so it's going to be a very eventful trip. But there's one small problem. She's black. He's white. And she hasn't told her parents yet.

Theresa's father, Percy (Bernie Mac), another businessman, has completed underground investigation on Simon, and he likes what he's found. Percy admires Simon for holding a position at a prestigious business; though, Percy doesn't know (and neither does Theresa, for that matter) that Simon just quit this job. Percy and his wife, Marilyn (Judith Scott), live a traditional, affluent life, and are looking forward to meeting the lucky guy who's dating their beautiful daughter, but they're in for quite the surprise.

Reversing the concept explored in the 1967 classic Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Guess Who looks at the challenges of a biracial relationship in an enlightening, tender, and amusing light. The script -- penned by three writers -- provides larger-than-life opportunities for Percy to humiliate Simon, and Simon to retaliate, while never ignoring the harsh reality of society's thoughts on biracial relationships.

A standard PG-13 romantic comedy, Guess Who is full of sexual innuendos. Instead of exploring the biracial possibilities of the humor, however, the film settles for unsurprising, sitcom-style hokum. For instance, when Percy demands that Simon share a bed with him during the outing, the results are stale and predictable. When Simon playfully sports Theresa's underwear, and Percy spots him in drag, the scene eludes a "been-there, seen-that" sensation. Nothing new. Nothing overtly funny.

Thankfully, the radiant chemistry between Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher keeps the movie afloat, especially when the film does explore the humor of the biracial relationship. A scene in which Simon tells racial jokes at the dinner table per request of Percy is masterful in its comic evolution. It's unique. It's funny. It's timely. Scenes like this give Kutcher and Mac the opportunity to engage in a surprisingly delightful showcase of their comedic talents... they just need the right stuff to work with.

Director Kevin Rodney Sullivan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back) pits Mac and Kutcher against each other in moderation, giving each character time to rebuttal with his significant other in between encounters. Thus, the film offers laughs and moments that develop the relationships of both couples. The audience comes to care about these people a lot.

Ashton Kutcher delivers a sensitive, tender performance, for the first time in his career. He proves that he does have at least some talent for acting when he doesn't force the comedy from every moment (like he does in That '70s Show). Bernie Mac isn't much of an actor, but he can sure play Bernie Mac well.

The DVD includes a gag reel, deleted scenes, making-of featurette, and director's commentary track.

Guess what I'm touching.

Comments

Guess Who Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 2005

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