A yellow taxi winds up a shaded hill toward an upper-class suburban neighborhood: a familiar beginning to those who have seen Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. “How cute,” I thought, skeptically. As the movie continued, however, I became evermore delighted and surprised by what I watched.
Guess Who features Ashton Kutcher, Bernie Mac, and Zoe Saldana in an update and remake of the 1967 movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. In this version, an African American girl, Theresa (Saldana), brings home a Caucasian boy, Simon Green (Kutcher) with plans of announcing their engagement at her parents’ big anniversary bash. Theresa’s father, Percy (Mac), thinks his daughter hangs the moon and no man will ever be good enough for his baby girl. When he first finds out about Simon, by pulling his credit report, he could not be happier. Simon has a good job, a spotless record, and good credit. He is actually excited to meet his daughter’s boyfriend. That is until he shows up at the front door and Percy finds out that he is white. Discomfort and comedy ensue.
Director Kevin Rodney Sullivan commented that he made this movie because, “I have a 12-and-a-half-year-old daughter who’s beautiful, and I’m sure she’s going to come home one day with some Lithuanian, Samoan, punk-rock drummer dude, and I thought if I did this movie I’d be able to work out my issues before that day comes.” This movie deals with an issue that, like it or not, is still a source of tension for many people with a humorous spin on its sometimes surprisingly serious tone. I was extremely impressed by the subject matter this movie dealt with. I knew what the movie was about, but it took the issue far more seriously than I would have imagined, all while maintaining light-hearted humor. Good job, Mr. Sullivan.
In this movie, Kutcher delivers a performance less dimwitted but just as amiable as Kelso on “That 70’s Show.” His character has a big heart and loves Theresa very much. At the same time, he is strong and determined to take care of the people he cares about, even willing to face the fearsome father of his fiancé. Kutcher’s charisma pulls these two dimensions together and the result is loveable and laughably well done. Bernie Mac rules the roost. At times one forgets that they are not watching “The Bernie Mac Show.” He, like Kutcher, brings depth and lovability to the role of an extremely overprotective father.
I liked this movie, but I do have one big complaint. The writers forgot to tie up some lose ends. There is an ongoing reminder that Simon, was raised by a single mother and his father left when he was young, but this aspect of the character does not really go anywhere. It feels like it was thrown in at the last second. This oversight aside, the movie was very well done and worth the number one opening box office weekend it received.
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