STARRING Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, S. Epatha Merkerson WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Tina Gordon Chism MPAA RATING Rated PG-13 RUNNING TIME 95 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY Lionsgate
"Peeples" a Warm, Comfortable Comedy
While Tina Gordon Chism's Peeples is presented by Tyler Perry, it's possibly Perry himself who should be learning from this flawed yet entertaining film that avoids a lot of the inconsistencies and unnecessary histrionics that always seem to accompany Perry's light-hearted family dramedy flicks.
The film is Chism's debut and what a promising debut it is. In the film, Kerry Washington stars as Grace, an ultra successful lawyer reluctant to take her boyfriend of a year, Wade (Craig Robinson), to meet her family. Once we really meet Wade, we kind of understand as he's a children's entertainer whose closest claim to fame is a song called "Speak It (Don't Leak It)," a song about going to the bathroom.
Kids love that stuff, you know?
Anyway, Wade gets tired of waiting and one weekend while Grace has run off for a family gathering he decides to show up unannounced with the even bigger intention of asking Grace to marry him. Unfortunately, he's not quite ready for the judgment he'll face from her father (David Alan Grier), a real life federal judge. The always welcome sight of S. Epatha Merkerson, as Grace's mother, adds tremendous heft to the film while Tyler James Williams has some of the film's funnier scenes as her teenage brother. By the time Grandpa (Mario Van Peebles) and Grandma (Diahann Carroll) show up to amp up the humor, Peeples has become a warm and winning comedy that should please most Tyler Perry fans and probably quite a few more folks who have grown tired of Perry's histrionic moralizing and inconsistent tones.
There's nothing inconsistent about Peeples, though if anything it likely plays it a bit too safe and doesn't quite stretch for the humor like a Perry film will do. In all likelihood, that's just a matter of experience and confidence for the obviously talented Chism.
The film benefits greatly from a terrific chemistry between Washington, who seems ecstatic to actually be doing a true comedy, and Washington, who seems to relish the opportunity to play a leading man rather than his usual supporting role.
There are worse jobs in the world than getting to spank Kerry Washington. You know?
One can only hope that against The Great Gatsby and the second weekend of Iron Man 3 that Peeples is able to find the audience it deserves even if we all know it'll pale in comparison to any numbers that Iron Man 3 puts up. A strong debut effort such as this one deserves a chance to shine, and it'll be awesome to see what projects come Tina Gordon Chism's way after this promising debut effort.