Tyler Perry Presents Peeples May 18, 2013 21:50:26 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on May 18, 2013 21:50:26 GMT -5
Kerry Washington, Craig Robinson, and David Alan Grier.
Tyler Perry Presents Peeples is a bad movie, but it's not a bad movie for a special reason. It's a lame, tired trudge through the kind of cutesy, "look at me" romantic-comedy genre of cinema that almost never feels as if it is trying. Films like these are usually an easy-sell to the public because there simply isn't a whole lot to stomach. Even during the climatic parts of the film does it feel that there isn't a whole lot going on in terms of development and plot progression. These pictures exist to provide audiences members with the kind of ninety-minute material that will not better them in any way, but not make them think too hard or burden them in any way.
If that's what you want, Peeples delivers on a level that pleases. For those seeking more intelligent fare, all I can say is seek on. The film feels like an urban redux of Meet the Parents, this time focusing on the likable but bland Wade Walker (Craig Robinson), a good-intentioned soul who makes a living off of singing songs to kids urging them to use their words and not their bodily fluids (?). He is dating the cute but equally bland Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington), who seems to be light years out of his league. Wade feels upset and unfulfilled that he hasn't been acquainted with Grace's family and decides that, in order to propose to her, he should crash the family's weekend stay in the Hamptons.
The head of the family is the bitter, mean-spirited Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier), who sees Wade's good-natured but ill-fated attempts at connection and resonance as foolish ways to climb up the ladder of likability. He is more won over by Daphne Peeples (S. Epatha Merkerson), Grace's mother, and "Sy" (Tyler James Williams), their younger son.
What unfolds is a series of predictable and lame antics from a textbook of what a comedy can do to go from mediocre to nearly unwatchable in record time. The cast has all been cheery and capable before, but throw them together with some of the worst writing of the year in terms of realism and tonality and you have an affair that is just incredibly difficult to stay in-tuned with, even if only for ninety-five minutes.
Returning to the point of realism, the film seems to predicate its humor off of the unrealistic way the Peeples' respond to Wade's charm and affection for their daughter. They react in a way that no parent, ever, would respond to their daughter's boyfriend's acts of kindness. Much of this played-out, unrealistic cynicism comes from Grier's Virgil, who is so lowly human and condescending to Wade and his family that his character never comes close to the line of being funny or entertaining.
There's a scene that absolutely slayed me and that involved Wade, Grace, Virgil, and another member of the Peeples' distance family sitting in the living room and talking about what Wade wants to do in his future. After they take turns belittling him and treating his "play it by ear" plans as lunacy, Wade stands up and is about to propose to Grace when Daphne calls for suppertime. Everyone remarks about how excited they are for dinner and leave poor Wade standing alone in the living room, interrupted and with a lesser-ego. If Wade had done that to, say, Virgil, he'd be crucified.
It's that kind of instance we're supposed to regard as funny or entertaining. Maybe my humanity for characters in films has increased since I began reviewing, but it's scenes like that I find inexcusable and implausible. If the family hadn't been so unbelievable, acting like compulsive cults with military precision wearing raincoats at the smallest mention of rain and boasting Timex watches day-in and day-out, that scene alone would've been enough to regard every attempt the film has at emotional resonance or relatability has not only facile but completely unbecoming.
The film was written and directed by Tina Gordon Chism, who is responsible for writing the charismatic film Drumline that featured a young Nick Cannon and unmissable energy. While Tyler Perry's name is featured prominently at the forefront of the film's title, I don't blame him for the turnout. He can only fund money and input so much creative control into such a project. If he had manned the production ship, I would've at least respected earnest attempts at creating drama. Not implausible ones.
If you want a more unconventional film, with real human-interest, ethical issues, complex family relations, and even a romantic subplot try and seek out Jeff Nichols' brilliant Mud as your weekend diversion. It's a truly beautiful picture with themes and a wonderful sense of adventure - the kinds of things cinema was erected off of. Peeples is the cinematic equivalent of flat soda.
NOTE: My video review of Tyler Perry Presents Peeples, www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF9o5GqyppQ
Starring: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Tyler James Williams. Directed by: Tina Gordon Chism.