Movie Reviews by Neils Hesse and Susan Hodgetts
Starring: Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher, Zoë Saldana, Judith Scott, Jessica Cauffiel
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan
Review by Neils Hesse
You’re probably wondering why the title sounds so familiar, well that’s because this is yet another remake of an old classic film. The original was called GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER and it was a 1967 production with Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Very controversial for its time and in some ways it still raises eyebrows today, all that aside it has aged well and is still a splendid comedy/ drama with excellent acting resulting in a best actress Oscar for Katharine Hepburn and several other nominations. This version has switched roles, instead of a young white lady bringing a black boy home we have a young black lady played by Zoë Saldana, bringing home a white boy played by Ashton Kutcher to her unsuspecting parents played by Bernie Mac and Judith Scott. Percy (Bernie Mac) is an over protective father who has his own vision of a perfect man for his darling daughter and Simon (Ashton Kutcher) does not fit in with his image at all. Simon and Percy soon find themselves at loggerheads as Simon tries too hard to please and Percy tries too hard to ruin Simon’s chances with his daughter.
The issue of race is very briefly tackled, merely scratching the surface and they quickly return to the basic feel good, romantic/odd couple formula of the film. This film has borrowed the central theme of a mixed race couple from the original but that’s where it stops. The core of this movie is the odd couple antics that come about as Ashton and Bernie’s characters are forced to get to know each other, with a dose of romance thrown in to keep the female viewers happy. Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac pull off their double act as they seem to share a very natural chemistry even though the film seems to have its laughs stretched out and almost falls victim to trying to be too dramatic at certain points.
Kevin Rodney Sullivan fresh from directing BARBERSHOP 2 steers clear of any pretence and delivers a straight forward crowd pleaser. One stand out scene has Bernie Mac initially mistake the black cab driver played by Mike Epps, as his daughter’s boyfriend and before she can explain he politely asks Ashton Kutcher to take the bags to the front door, the look on Bernie Mac’s face when she finally introduces her white boyfriend to him is priceless.
This film will probably not get any Oscar nominations but it should leave you smiling. It should make you laugh and I think that’s what the film is all about, so from that point of view it easily succeeds as an entertaining popcorn movie.
Review by Susan Hodgetts
Ashton Kutcher’s latest, whilst good spirited, unfortunately just bears the hallmarks of a MEET THE PARENTS rip-off. Prospective father-in-law Percy (Bernie Mac), although he’s minus the lie detector and a fluffy cat, is, surprise, surprise not going to roll over and let you tickle his stomach. No man is going to be good enough for his daughter – particularly a little white dude.
For here’s the twist – daughter Theresa (Zoë Saldana) is black and the parents are none too impressed when she whips out white boyfriend Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher).
To make matters worse, Simon has a secret to hide. He’s just quit his lucrative stockbroking job – but hasn’t quite got around to telling his girlfriend. He just doesn’t feel like ruining the big weekend when he wants to announce his engagement to Theresa and when his prospective parents-in-law are renewing their wedding vows.
Of course disaster ensues but the biggest disaster is this film’s reliance on one joke to carry the entire scenario. There are a few funny moments but the characters can never manage to get over the fact that Kutcher is white, whilst once we’ve got the concept after five minutes, we don’t need it reinforced for the next two hours, and the joke begins to wear as thin as a threadbare sock.
Mac is charismatic as the larger than life Percy Jones, and Kutcher is sweetly engaging enough, but their male chumminess, and the ‘sisterhood,’ seems a little clumsy and cliched.
With an ending that’s cheesier than a packet of Mini Cheddars, some may get a few laughs but it’s not ground-breaking stuff.