Movie News Presents: Guess Who?

By Samantha Ofole-Prince

     Bernie Mac is Percy Jones, a senior bank loan officer from the New Jersey suburbs who wants the best for his daughter Theresa (Saldana). When she announces she is bringing home her latest boyfriend Simon Green (Kutcher), Percy immediately has him checked out. On paper he appears to be the ideal suitor – a stockbroker for a prestigious New York firm with a clean record and excellent credit. A Denzel Washington type – or so Percy thinks. The only problem is that he is unemployed, and Theresa neglected to inform them of one tiny and almost insignificant little detail – he is also white.
     A brilliant romantic update of the classic 1967 movie "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner," this movie explores interracial relationships in an innovative and refreshing way, touching on all the nuances that exist with superb expertise. Mac is brilliant as the father who is so apprehensive about his daughter’s suitor that he goes to severe measures to ensure they don’t end up in the same room. Moving downstairs to the basement where Simon is sleeping, he joins him on the basement bed, placing a padlock on the door to ensure he gets a good night sleep – alone. "I see everything." He warns. His facial expressions are comical, his comments hilarious and there is an enjoyable chemistry between the two (Kutcher and Mac). At first Percy attempts to be open minded, welcoming Simon into his home, but at the office he’s too ashamed to tell his co-worker’s that his daughter is dating a white guy. For Mac, this movie was a chance to pay homage to the film he loves and to actor Sidney Poitier who he respects. "Growing up, I watched all these great old movies with actors who inspired me and motivated me to perform." Mac says. Kutcher, as Simon who was raised by a single mother (father walked out when he was toddler) doesn’t disappoint either. He has a certain boyish charm onscreen that fans will adore. His attempts to please the tough Percy seem futile at first especially when Percy berates him for his lack of interest in sports. Judith Scott is Bernie’s wife Marilyn, a local school principle with more tolerance and patience than her husband, and comedian Mike Epps has a small scene as the taxi driver who Percy initially mistakes for Simon.
     Plenty of laughs are ensured in this spicy remake, which has all the right ingredients for a successful comedy. One of the funniest scenes is at the dinner table when Simon’s racial jokes, which are spurred on by Percy get out of hand and touch a raw nerve. The first couple of jokes which includes; "How do we know that Adam and Eve were not black?" "Because you can never take a rib from a black man" wins an applause but the follow up touches a raw nerve and by the end of dinner Theresa’s granddad wants to ‘kick Simon’s behind." Of course, by the end of the movie Simon wins the family over, but it’s getting there that ensures plenty of giggles. Particularly entertaining is Percy’s unsuccessful attempt to write vows for his 25th anniversary party by poaching lines from the B2K song "Bump, Bump, Bump." Amidst all the laughs, however, there is an important message about racial boundaries and unconditional love. "It’s a lesson about life," says Saldana.
     "Guess Who" is a breath of fresh air, it’s funny, smart, real and entirely enjoyable. The cultural boundaries are explored in good taste and everyone from all creeds will relate to this feel good comedy, for there is great comic timing and it’s excellently written and well directed.