If you think remakes are unoriginal and highly overrated, you better guess again because “Guess Who” is definitely a film that stands on its own. The 2005 comedy is a remake of the classic 1967 film, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.” The film, directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan, debuted over Easter weekend and grossed $21 million and knocked “Ring 2” out of the number one spot.
The premise is quite simple. What happens when a black woman brings her white fianc? home to meet her parents? Well, if the disapproving father is played by Bernie Mac and the future son-in-law by Ashton Kutcher, then you are definitely in for a hilarious night at the movies.
Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher) is a promising young businessman with a bright future ahead of him. A big part of his future includes marrying his beautiful girlfriend, photographer Theresa Jones (Zo? Salda?a). Percy Jones, a successful loan officer (Bernie Mac), and Marilyn Jones (Judith Scott) are surprised that their daughter has brought a white man home. Percy told his wife, who is willing to welcome Simon into the family, “I was expecting Denzel Washington to walk through the door … Why didn’t she tell me he was white.”
Simon knows it’s going to be a challenge to win over Theresa’s overprotective father, so he works arduously to impress him. He doesn’t get off to a good start by admitting he’s never played any sports, which according to the sarcastic Percy certifies a lack of manliness. After receiving a negative reaction from Percy due to his lack of masculinity, Simon lies and says he was a former driver for Jeff Gordon, the famous NASCAR racer. A little white lie never hurt anybody, right?
Guess again because, unbeknownst to Simon, Percy is an avid NASCAR fan and has actually met Gordon. When Simon sees the shrine his father-in-law has dedicated to the NASCAR driver, he panics. “I had to think of something to tell him,” he tells his concerned girlfriend. “NASCAR and hockey are the whitest sports out there. I should have went with hockey.”
He panics even more when Percy takes him out to the racing lane instead of a lunch date. Simon struggles to keep up with Percy on the track during this scene which is quite funny and results in future court dates for both men when they end up colliding in the middle of an intersection and are approached by a police officer.
What is great about this film is that it takes a serious subject like breaking down racial barriers and makes it comical. For instance, during the dinner table scene, Percy pressures Simon to tell the family some “black jokes.” Simon of course hesitates and Percy makes him pay for it by implying that he is scared. Simon begins telling some jokes and the whole family, including Percy, laughs hysterically at the jokes. But Simon goes a little too far and makes an “offhand remark” (I won’t spoil it for you by telling the joke), which gets him into hot water with Percy and has Theresa’s grandfather out of his seat and ready to brawl.
Another bonus to this film is its setting. The film was shot in Cranford, N.J., so all of you Cranfordians who attend the College and cannot wait until summer break to return to your hometown, try checking out the lovely aura of Cranford on the big screen. And for all the critics who think that New Jersey serving as a filming location only works on “The Sopranos,” think again.
Some critics might say that the film copies off of “Meet the Parents” in some aspects. For instance, Percy makes Simon sleep downstairs in the basement so he doesn’t have the opportunity to have sex with his daughter, which is reminiscent of the infamous Jack Burnes. However, Percy takes it a step further by putting a lock on the basement door and sleeping with Simon in the bed each night. If you don’t find anything else funny, you’ll at least find the two comedians sharing a bed humorous.
The cast has great chemistry, especially among Mac, Kutcher and Salda?a. Salda?a is very convincing as a daughter who doesn’t want to disappoint her father but loves her financ? regardless. Mac and Kutcher give great comedic performances, especially Mac who proves that he can carry a film and appeal to a mass audience. There are even some supporting actors to watch out for in this movie, including Theresa’s crazy younger sister Keisha (Kelle Stewart) and Percy’s hysterical, metrosexual party coordinator, Jason (Chad Gabriel). The bottom line is that the film is a solid comedy that appeals to a wide audience.