Monday, May 13, 2013


I wasn't originally going to be the guy to review Peeples for eFilmCritic, but then, I wasn't originally going to see it opening weekend; I was figuring to get out to Revere, see No One Lives, and head back to Boston, maybe check something at the boutique houses out in the evening, and catch this under the "mediocre movies are basically free with MoviePass" plan. But, as I mentioned yesterday, things got a little hairy on the bus ride out, and I arrived fifteen minutes after No One Lives was scheduled to start. Not knowing whether this theater tended more toward the AMC extreme of "20 minutes of previews" or the Somerville "just get to the movie" model, I figured Peeples was the one I could squeeze in. I mean, I was out in the part of the suburbs that's just all shopping centers; what the heck else was I going to do?

It was an... interesting screening. First, as I noticed yesterday, some of the previews didn't just say "approved for ALL AUDIENCES" or "approved for APPROPRIATE AUDIENCES", but that they were "approved to ACCOMPANY THIS FEATURE". Which... Kind of weird. I mean, as much as I sort of accept that the MPAA is a necessary evil, that just seems like a weird step to take, like they don't trust theaters to determine what "appropriate audiences" are (although that's sort of a vague term itself). Also noteworthy: The two that had that tag were both movies featuring all-mostly African-American casts, which seemed vaguely limiting, like there was some sort of cinematic apartheid going on. That sadly seems to go on anyway, but that seemed to make it official.

(Also - you can apparently get a hell of a cast when making a movie for that audience. The cast list for the sequel to The Best Man was ridiculous!)

Second, I think I sort of wandered into a special-needs screening. Not official, but that's who the other half-dozen folks in the room were, so there were some odd noises coming from behind me. It wasn't particularly disruptive or anything - though it may have been in a more crowded room with someone who really gets uptight and angry at any distractions - but it was kind of odd, especially when I didn't know what might be part of the soundtrack.

Anyway, saw Peeples, more or less enjoyed it, and figured I'd write it up if nobody else did. As you can see, no-one else did. Sometime I'll have to go back through the last few months to see just how often movies with primarily minority casts get written up. I feel like it's something we could do better on, but we're a pretty white group. Which doesn't preclude us reviewing the likes of Peeples, but when you consider that we're pretty much all-volunteer and how these things often seem to be marketed to such completely separate audiences, I think a lot of time they slip through the cracks because something's not on our personal to-see list. I'd like to say I'm going to try and be a little better about this, but I get busy, and sometimes it seems like Tyler Perry is the only guy who can get a predominately-African-American film opened wide... And from what I gather, his movies are really not going to be my thing. It would be pretty cool if we could find some different voices.

I will try and see/write up more when I can, though. It's kind of ridiculous that I'll see a ton of movies from China just because they're from China but can remain relatively unfamiliar with things being produced in my own back yard.


* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 11 May 2013 in Showcase Cinema de Lux Revere #2 (first-run, DLP)

Comedy is hard, folks. It must be, because look at Peeples - it's got a cast full of funny and talented people, a premise that's been proven fertile enough, and one would be fairly hard-pressed to find many places where it really missteps. And with all that going for it, it winds up average. Not bad, not great, just pleasant enough to be one part of an enjoyable date night.

It stars Craig Robinson as Wade Walker, a children's entertainer more interested in helping kids than making records; he's been seeing Manhattan lawyer Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington) for about a year, and he's ready to propose. He was planning to do it this weekend, but Grace has a family thing that she assures Wade would bore him. He goes anyway, though, only to find that her parents Virgil (David Alan Grier) and Daphne (S. Epatha Merkerson) haven't been told a thing about him, and the demanding Virgil, a federal judge, doesn't think much of Wade, although the family may tend to be blind to their own imperfections.

The "meet the parents" plot is obviously familiar - from, among other things, Meet the Parents - but it keeps getting trotted out because it works. Writer/director Tina Gordon Chism has a handle on why it works, too; there's natural tension to the situation but never so much that it becomes a melodrama rather than a comedy. Most importantly, all three of the people involved in this triangle of sorts have enough eccentricities that there's always a joke ready at hand, even before going to the high-quality supporting cast.

Full review on eFilmCritic.

No comments: