Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
James Franco Will Direct Film Based on Aziah "Zola" Wells' 148-Tweet Narrative That Went Viral James Franco Will Direct Film Based on Aziah "Zola" Wells' 148-Tweet Narrative That Went Viral Regarding 'Song of the South' – The Film That Disney Doesn’t Want You to See Regarding 'Song of the South' – The Film That Disney Doesn’t Want You to See Watch Mekhi Phifer in Trailer for "First-Person Shooter" Zombie Thriller, 'Pandemic' Watch Mekhi Phifer in Trailer for "First-Person Shooter" Zombie Thriller, 'Pandemic' 2016 SXSW Feature Films Lineup Announced - Several World Premieres of Note 2016 SXSW Feature Films Lineup Announced - Several World Premieres of Note HBO Sets April Premiere Date for 'Confirmation' HBO Sets April Premiere Date for 'Confirmation' Watch the Electrifying First Trailer for Don Cheadle's 'Miles Ahead' Watch the Electrifying First Trailer for Don Cheadle's 'Miles Ahead' Watch: Tyler Perry Previews 'The Passion' 2-Hour Musical Event in New Orleans Watch: Tyler Perry Previews 'The Passion' 2-Hour Musical Event in New Orleans Before Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film Is Released, Get Prepped By Watching Charles Burnett's 2003 Documentary Before Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film Is Released, Get Prepped By Watching Charles Burnett's 2003 Documentary There Is a Precedent for the "DuVernay Test" to Consider... There Is a Precedent for the "DuVernay Test" to Consider... Idris Elba Makes SAG Awards History + Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah Collect Trophies Idris Elba Makes SAG Awards History + Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah Collect Trophies Ryan Coogler to Deliver Prestigious University of Chicago Kent Lecture Feb. 9 Ryan Coogler to Deliver Prestigious University of Chicago Kent Lecture Feb. 9 Watch Episode 1 of PBS' New Civil War-Set Drama Series 'Mercy Street' + On-Set Visit Watch Episode 1 of PBS' New Civil War-Set Drama Series 'Mercy Street' + On-Set Visit Watch: OWN Previews New Primetime Series 'It's Not You, It's Men' (Tyrese Gibson & Rev Run Host) Watch: OWN Previews New Primetime Series 'It's Not You, It's Men' (Tyrese Gibson & Rev Run Host) LeToya Luckett, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Andra Fuller Star in New TV One Comedy Series 'Here We Go Again' LeToya Luckett, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Andra Fuller Star in New TV One Comedy Series 'Here We Go Again' First Look at Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film, 'The Birth of a Nation' First Look at Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film, 'The Birth of a Nation' TV One Aims to Change the Reality Genre with New Series, 'The Next 15' TV One Aims to Change the Reality Genre with New Series, 'The Next 15' Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton Is Heading to TV Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton Is Heading to TV Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Review: 'Peeples' Is Essentially A Predictable Sitcom, But The Cast Makes It An Amusing One

Shadow and Act By Dan Simolke | Shadow and Act May 10, 2013 at 10:22AM

Is this Craig Robinson’s first step toward becoming the black Kevin James, at least in terms of leading “play-it-safe” mainstream comedies? It could be, but the other career choices he’s made lead me to believe his destination will prove decidedly more interesting. Being a part of the Apatow crew has given him a few unique comedic roles (he’s one of the better aspects of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s fitfully hilarious, but uneven, “This Is the End,” which opens June 13th and happens to contain one of the most unexpected cameos of all-time) and he’s consistently one of the most relatable characters on “The Office.” He brings his nice guy chops to “Peeples,” and while the results are often humorous, the movie itself is highly generic and might as well be a remake of “Meet the Parents.”
9
Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson in 'Peeples'
Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson in 'Peeples'

Is this Craig Robinson’s first step toward becoming the black Kevin James, at least in terms of leading “play-it-safe” mainstream comedies? It could be, but the other career choices he’s made lead me to believe his destination will prove decidedly more interesting. Being a part of the Apatow crew has given him a few unique comedic roles (he’s one of the better aspects of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s fitfully hilarious, but uneven, “This Is the End,” which opens June 13th and happens to contain one of the most unexpected cameos of all-time) and he’s consistently one of the most relatable characters on “The Office.” He brings his nice guy chops to “Peeples,” and while the results are often humorous, the movie itself is highly generic and might as well be a remake of “Meet the Parents.”

Robinson plays Wade Walker, a guy who teaches young children how to express themselves by playing goofy songs about how to avoid wetting one’s pants, etc. He’s dating the, presumably, slightly out of his league, Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington), and has plans to propose. Of course, she doesn’t know this, and making the situation even more precarious is the fact that Wade hasn’t met her family yet (dubbed the “chocolate Kennedys” here). When she goes to visit them one weekend he decides to show up and make a good impression, theoretically topping things off by popping the question.

Potential spoiler: things don’t go as planned!

What “Peeples” gets right is its casting. Not even just the casting itself, but the room the actors get to be goofy. There’s a scene where Robinson gets mad after running into two of Washington’s old boyfriends (who are also older men) and when he brings it up with her she addresses it, and then casually gets on her bike to catch up with the rest of the family. But then the camera just stays on Robinson. He’s still mad about it and he just moves around in an odd manner, basically talking to himself before getting on his bike. I could barely hear what he was saying because the audience was laughing so much, but simply watching him move was hilarious. There are a couple moments like this where a scene goes on for what would normally be too long, but it usually works because of the actor’s enthusiasm.

Back to the casting itself, David Alan Grier is the unreasonably stern, but secretly flawed, dad, Virgil. He’s good in the role, but the character is mostly one-note. S. Epatha Merkerson is spot-on at playing the one-time disco queen/recovering alcoholic mom, and Tyler James Williams (Chris from “Everybody Hates Chris”) has a dorky charm as the brother. The funniest turn from the supporting cast comes from Malcolm Barrett, playing Wade’s brother, who reminded me a bit of Dave Chappelle here. He’s perfect for the “absurd sidekick” role.

Writer-director, Tina Gordon Chism (making her directorial-debut), clearly knows how to structure a conventional screenplay (she also scripted “ATL” and Drumline”) but my, the plot points are predictable. Grace’s reporter sister, Gloria (played by Kali Hawk, who is honestly so gorgeous it’s almost distracting any time she’s onscreen) has been coming home with her camerawoman for years and no one in the nuclear family has taken a hint. Wade also says it’s not going to rain in one scene, and then… well I’d prefer not to tell. There are several things like this in the script, where the audience knows what’s coming long before it does, and it gets a bit tiresome. The movie also loses its rhythm in the third-act, where it reaches its calculable conclusion quickly and awkwardly.

Technically, the film is nothing to write home about. The production values are not high, and the camera work is about as standard “back-and-forth” as you can get, but ultimately these things don’t have a detrimental effect on the movie. Plus, when the legendary Melvin Van Peebles has a small role in a movie in 2013, you can forgive a few cinematic shortcomings.

“Peeples” is a reasonably fun, non-offensive matinee flick. It has just enough oddball aspects to keep it from being completely run of the mill, and the actors (and what I would imagine is Chism’s direction of those actors) deliver in unexpected ways. I hope Robinson’s stock as an actor continues to rise, and honestly, who doesn’t want that to happen? He has such an immediately likeable presence onscreen. Plus, his delivery of the line: “You used to not give a fuck about discretion!” in “Pineapple Express” is probably the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. He deserves continued success for that alone. In fact, I even like to pretend he wrote it.

Grade: a solid C+

This article is related to: Tina Gordon Chism


Shadow & ActNewsletter