Peeples - Movie Review

1 star

In a bit of casting genius, the latest Tyler Perry production titled Peeples features a cameo appearance by the enigmatic Melvin van Peebles (get it? Peebles - Peeples), a move so bold it would take an appearance from James Caan in a remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to be bested.

But unfortunately, that’s about as clever as it gets in what is already proving to be one of the year’s silliest messes. And it’s not so much the wanton absurdity or the blatant lifting of Meet the Parents as it is the total lack of anything resembling comedic creativity. Instead, the film - written and directed by Tina Gordon Chism - just lunges forward from uncomfortable skit to awkward gag with no real purpose or direction. And no, throwing in a bit that involves the inadvertent ingestion of magic mushrooms does nothing to drive home the message of learning to become comfortable with who we are. It’s just stupid.

Craig Robinson is Wade Walker, a low level children’s entertainer looking for the right moment to propose to his beautiful girlfriend Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington, Django Unchained), a New York City lawyer from an upper-crust family. Spurred on by his charming lothario brother, Chris (Malcolm Barret), Wade decides to crash her family’s high-brow Sag Harbor get-together so he can kill two birds with one stone by popping the question and introducing himself to his future in-laws.

There’s just one problem. Grace’s father  is Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier)  - correct that, “Judge” Virgil Peoples - a hard-driving federal magistrate who not only lives up to his tough-as-nails reputation in the courtroom, but also with his family, affectionately called "The Chocolate Kennedys." He’s a control freak all about tradition and keeping his flock in line, so needless to say, he isn’t amused by Wade’s unannounced arrival, so Wade is left scrambling to prove his place within the family.

Wade finds a bit of solace in Grace’s mother (S. Epatha Merkerson) however, as she’s a much more relaxed free-spirit-type - she’s a musical one-hit-wonder from the ‘70s - who not only proves to be quite accommodating to Wade’s visit, but also occasionally enjoys a nip from her home-made shroom concoction. Then there’s Grace’s CNN news anchor sister Gloria (Kali Hawk), who also harbors a dark secret: her best friend Meg, who she has brought home to family gatherings for years now, is really her longtime girlfriend. You see, everyone harbors their own set of personal demons, including Grace’s little brother Simon (Tyler James Wilson) who has a penchant for stealing jewelry to impress the girls.

Get it? We’re all dysfunctional and we’re supposed to find a bit ourselves in the film’s characters. The problem is none of it feels real. From the palatial Sag Harbor mansions and NYC apartments afforded on the salary of a lowly children’s entertainer, to the obvious set-ups that lead to awkward Three’s Company-type moments, it all is simply unapproachably silly. And rarely is any of it even the slightest bit funny.

None of the actors is to blame for any of this, however. That rests squarely on the shoulders of Chism and her script which fail at nearly every turn to endear the audience to any of the characters. Robinson is a very funny actor and Grier showed some mean comedic chops back in his In Living Color days. But even their oil-and-water repulsion of one another’s character feels phony and forced, never natural. How on Earth does one manage to suck the fun from these two comedic heavyweights? That takes a special lack of talent.

To her credit however, Chism never takes the proceedings down the mean-spirited route, nor do any of her characters become particularly hateful… even in a love-to-hate kind of way. In fact, it’s all mostly family-friendly stuff. That’s not to say, however, that it’s family-enjoyable stuff. That is, unless nudist colonies, lesbianism, magic mushrooms, Moby Dick jokes, and childhood urination are your thing.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Peeples - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, drug material and language.
Runtime: 95 mins.
: Tina Gordon Chism
: Tina Gordon Chism
Cast: Craig Robinson; Kerry Washington; David Alan Grier; S. Epatha Merkerson
Genre: Comedy
He's not one of the Peeples.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Time for men to test their manhood."
Official Site:
Release Date: May 10, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.

Synopsis: Sparks fly when Wade Walker (Craig Robinson) crashes the preppy Peeples annual reunion in the Hamptons to ask for their precious daughter Grace's (Kerry Washington) hand in marriage. Wade might be a fish-out-of-water among this seemingly perfect East Coast clan, but he’s not about to let himself flounder. Instead, in a wild weekend of fun, dysfunction and hilarious surprises, Wade is about to discover there’s room for all kinds of Peeples in this family, no matter their differences. Writer and first-time director Tina Gordon Chism (writer of DRUMLINE) joins forces with Tyler Perry to present a laugh-out-loud look at the family ties that freak us out . . . but bind us together with love.

Blu-ray Review

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