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Article by Teddy Durgin

Teddy is a Peeples Person

With regards to the new comedy, "Peeples," I am going to write something that may sound like a back-handed compliment to some. But I swear to you, it's genuine praise. "Peeples" is a likable movie! And I mean that in the best possible way. We don't get enough likable movies. Instead, we get flicks that try and be all about exclamation points. How did you like it? What are the critics saying? Hilarious! Intense! Action-packed! Scary! Four stars! A must-see! The Roller-Coaster Ride of the season! Do you know what you never see? An ad in the paper or a commercial on TV with the critic's quote: "Likable!" But if the geniuses running the promotional campaign for this film have any sense, that's how they should market this picture. And they should start with this guy's review right here. So, Hollywood, you have my full permission to use: "Likable! I Liked 'Peeples.' I Am a 'Peeples' Person" - Ted Durgin, East County Times, in your marketing for this film. And I will stand by that quote just as I stand by the below review. I think in circumstances such as this, the reviewer shouldn't do the movie a disservice by over-hyping it. "Peeples" is not hilarious or action-packed. It doesn't take you on an emotional journey. You won't need a hankie afterwards. And you won't need to take an Advil because of the eye-straining 3-D effects. It's just a nice, easy-going, confident little sitcom of a movie. And, OK, yes. It IS an African-American take on "Meet the Parents." Craig Robinson of "The Office" stars as Wade, a musician who has found his niche entertaining children with educational songs about potty-training. But he dreams of one day earning a doctorate's degree in Child Psychology. He dates and lives with Grace (Kerry Washington), a New York lawyer who has yet to tell her federal judge dad (David Alan Grier) and former R&B star mom (S. Epatha Merkerson) about their relationship. Ready to ask for Grace's hand in marriage, Wade decides to butt in on a family vacation weekend in Connecticut and... ahem... meet her parents. Stiller-esque hijinks ensue. Factoring into the yuks here are bits involving Wade unknowingly drinking a mushroom-laced beverage to Wade following Grace's dad into town and finding out he is a secret nudist. Lending some funny support is newcomer Malcolm Barrett, playing Wade's younger brother, who comes to the family home for the weekend to lend support and tries to pass himself off as a doctor. He is... er, sort of. He's a doll doctor for one of those American Girl-like stores. Barrett has the best comic timing in the film. "Peeples" is at its best when the characters are just sitting around a room relating to one another. Writer-director Tina Gordon Chism is definitely shooting for a Nancy Meyers-like vibe here and comes fairly close. The one big problem in the film is Grier as Virgil, the domineering dad. He's fine and very (here's that word again) likable in the part. But the role called for a much stronger and formidable presence. Twenty or 30 years ago, James Earl Jones or John Amos would have ruled as Virgil. Today, the part needed a Samuel L. Jackson or an Andre Braugher. "Meet the Parents" worked so well because it was Robert DeNiro in the scary pops role and not Robert Carradine. Other than that, "Peeples" is light, appealing entertainment. And the studio can quote me on that, too.

 

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