GENRE: (Sub)urban Comedy
THE PITCH: Wade (Craig Robinson), a children's music performer decides its time to propose to his girl Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington) the weekend of the Peeples' annual reunion in the Hamptons. Determined, Wade crashes the family gathering and must endure the scrutiny of the paterfamilias, Virgil (David Alan Grier). Think Meet the Parents with a healthy dose of Jumping the Broom.
MONEY SHOT: Searching for a bathroom in the Peeples' home, Wade discovers the headdress worn by Daphne Peeples (S. Epatha Merkerson) when she was a disco singer in the '70s. Idol worship takes over as Wade puts the headdress on and starts to perform one of Daphne's funkiest, raunchiest songs.
BEST LINE: Chris, Wade's brother tries to build up his confidence about proposing to Grace by putting things in perspective. "He's a federal judge, you sing songs about urine to minors ... but people like you."
(STILL) IN LIVING COLOR: I guess you can't have a movie about class amongst African-Americans and not add elements of race. Wade holds up the line at a grocery store in the Hamptons and an older Caucasian women yells, "The colored boy doesn't have any money ... they can't help themselves."
IS THERE A MOBY DICK DAY? The Peeples reconnect annually during Moby Dick Day festivities, but there is no actual Moby Dick Day in the Hamptons. They do have their annual Harbor Fest in Sag Harbor that includes readings from Moby Dick. There is a Moby Dick Marathon in New Bedford, Mass, but the only Moby Dick festival is in Youghal, Ireland from May through June.
FACE TIME: Aside from his signature afro, Robinson is the king of faces. From professing his love to fleeing from the family dog, the camera took advantage of his various. Overall I counted over 35 different facial contortions. My favorite was the "Thriller."
BOTTOM LINE: Although branded as "Tyler Perry Presents ... " this is really the brainchild of writer and newbie director Tina Gordon Chism. Chism who has success writing urban, coming-of-age dramas like ATL and Drumline, makes her directorial debut in this (sub)urban comedy. As much as I admire Chism for her previous body of work, aside from several clever one-liners, Peeples looks, sounds and feels like a carbon copy of - or better yet, a black version of Meet the Parents - which in my opinion is an issue. There's nothing original about the film outside of the urban skew. The talented cadre of actors that comprise the Peeples family (including Diahann Carroll and Mario Van Peebles as the grandparents) take ownership of the sitcom they're in adding some heft to the family dynamic and help anchor Robinson, who delivers during comedic situations but flounders at more serious notes. Luckily there's an ample amount of laugh-out-loud moments created by Craig within the dysfunctional Peeples' household to keep the momentum light, enjoyable and worth watching.