A mix of “Meet the Parents” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, ” Guess Who is just funny enough. Starring Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher, “Guess Who" tells the tale of Simon Green (Kutcher) as he travels home with his girlfriend Theresa (Zoe Saladana) to meet her family. Of course she has failed to mention to anyone, particularly her father (Bernie Mac) that her new boyfriend is white.
The movie could have been a disaster. It had the potential to fall into all of the stereotypes we have come to expect from black and white comedies, “Bringing Down the House” and “Miss Congeniality 2” being two of the worst offenders in recent memory. Admittedly there is a little of that here: Kutcher’s character is goaded into telling black jokes at dinner with Theresa’s family that includes her racially intolerant grandfather, and Mac’s character lies about his daughter’s boyfriend to an employee, describing him instead as a black man named Jamal who lives in Atlanta, plays basketball and went to Howard University. Aside from these examples, “Guess Who" manages to rise above the obvious racial pitfalls and is a movie that’s fairly funny, a little enlightening and surprisingly endearing.
The flip side of the movie’s attempt not to fall into racial stereotypes is that it goes a little too far in the opposite direction. Kutcher’s character is the kid from the broken home, with the single mother and dad who left when he was two. Percy is the upper class snob with a love of NASCAR. I know the movie was trying to make a point that all black people aren’t impoverished or from broken homes and all white people aren’t racist suburban snobs, but sometimes the movie felt like they didn’t even believe what they were trying to sell themselves. It felt as if they were yelling “Hey look, no really look, black people can be wealthy, successful and like sports other then basketball and football, ” at the top of their lungs.
Other then that, “Guess Who" isn’t a bad way to spend two hours of your life. There is little chemistry between Kutcher and Saladana but Bernie Mac and Kutcher light up the screen, and display some of the best on-screen chemistry going, especially for two people who aren’t romantically involved. Scenes where they are playing in-door football and getting drunk are priceless, and a sequence where they have to face a house full of angry women to get their significant others to come back home is funny, sweet and very believable.
All in all “Guess Who" is worth your six dollars. It won’t get nominated for an Oscar or be at the forefront in enhancing race relations but it is not a bad way to spend an afternoon. You get enough laughs to keep you interested, and it’s a movie that appeals to both sexes, so you can take a date and everyone will be pleased.
(C) 2005 Tamika Johnson
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