Peeples is a brilliant, original movie about a man struggling to gain acceptance from his girlfriend's family, while the family struggles with their own internal secrets and an overbearing patriarch. Who am I kidding? Peeples is basically Meet the Parents, and yeah, I know what you're thinking, "Oh, it's Tyler Perry Presents Black Meet the Parents." While that's not far from the truth, there's really nothing distinctive about Peeples that makes it unique to any ethnicity. You could literally swap out the entire cast, and you'd still have exactly the same movie.
I usually find myself in the minority when I tell people that I didn't even like the first Meet the Parents (I liked the subsequent sequels even less). Movies that follow this format really frustrate me where you have an overbearing father figure that everyone seems to walk on eggshells around. Nobody speaks up to him, even when he's clearly wrong. Then, you've got the boyfriend who's meeting the family for the first time, and despite not really knowing anything about the guy, the father (and sometimes the entire family) just beat him up. The boyfriend won't stand up for himself, because he doesn't want to cause any drama, and takes way more abuse than I think a normal person would put up with if this actually happened. Sometimes, even the girlfriend doesn't defend him enough, which makes it even more frustrating. We also learn that much of the family is hiding secrets, and the father not being entirely truthful with everyone either. Finally, the boyfriend finally speaks up, all the secrets come out, everyone gets mad, the couple breaks up before everyone comes together and reconciles.
In Peeples, Wade (Craig Robinson) shows up at his girlfriend Grace's (Kerry Washington) family beach house to surprise her and hopefully propose to her. Only he learns that she's never even told her family about him. Grace's father, Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier), as if mandated by movie law, clearly doesn't like Wade. They also point out he's a judge so we know he's an extra-hardass. Wade desperately wants to impress and win Virgil's approval and get his blessing to marry his daughter. Wade's able to able to win over the rest of the family, which is a slight departure from the formula, and his girlfriend even defends him to Virgil on a few occasions.
Another key difference to me is that I feel like Craig Robinson has a little more of an easy going charm about him. He's a bigger guy, so he also has that teddy bear quality. He still puts up with more crap than he should, but there's nothing mean spirited about him. You'll watch Peeples and wish he'd speak his mind a little more, even if some feelings get hurt.
he biggest disappointment about Peeples though is that it's just not that funny. There are a few lines here and there that got a chuckle out of me, but overall, it's another tame, inoffensive family comedy. I guess I was expecting a little more, because if you've seen Craig Robinson on The Office, or his various roles in other comedy film, he's a really funny guy when given good material. Also, I've come to be a big fan of David Alan Grier from his many appearances on Adam Carolla's Podcast. He's an absolute riot on Carolla's show, and he doesn't get a chance to show that here. I don't either of these guys gave bad performances, I only wish the movie would have taken advantage of their considerable comedic talents.
There are also tons of musical numbers, which many times felt really out of place, and simply weren't funny. With a different cast, you could easily see Jack Black playing the lead role, only this is a vehicle to show Craig Robinson's musical chops. He has the ability, but I don't think kiddie songs like 'Speak It, Don't Leak It' are gonna win you any Oscars for best original song in a movie.
This could have been a sitcom with how many of the scenes didn't have any setup from one to another. At one point, Wade's brother (Malcolm Barrett) shows up out of the blue for no real reason, and it feels like an attempt to inject some new blood into something that doesn't have a lot of life in it at that point. Tina Gordon Chism's script (she also directed) doesn't have any flow about it, as well as being extremely predictable. I could even take the predictability if the film had any bite to it. Peeples is tired joke after tired joke.
Peeples is nothing you haven't seen before. It's yet another inoffensive, predictable family comedy that offers few laughs and wastes a talented cast. It's a less annoying rehash of Meet the Parents. I didn't hate the movie, it just didn't do anything for me. This is the very definition of a rental and is not something there's any reason to see in the theater at all.
2.5 (out of 5) Death Stars