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March 2005

By Wilson Morales

Guess Who

Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan
Producers: Jenno Topping, Erwin Stoff, & Jason Goldberg
Screenwriters: David Ronn, Jay Scherick & Peter Tolan, based on a story by David Ronn and Jay Scherick
Director of Photography: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Cast: Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher, Zoe Saldana, Judith Scott, and Mike Epps




Hollywood is constantly making remakes and adaptations on classic films or foreign films as if a new audience will bring in more money. In some cases, the remakes have done well such as "The Ring", which is based on the Japanese film of the same name, or "The Italian Job", which was a remake on the 60s film. Both of those films were financially successful and for the most part received good reviews. In the latest venture that Hollywood is taking with remakes, they are making a film that not only is considered a classic, but was dangerous and political at the time it came out. "Guess Who" is based on the 1968 film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, which starred Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy, and the great Katherine Hepburn. At the time that film came out, race was a big factor in the world and the film brought out many discussions and debates about interracial relationships. In this latest remake, the race has been reversed in which Kevin Rodney Sullivan ("Barbershop 2") helms this comedy, in which an African-American father (Bernie Mac) is less than thrilled when his daughter brings home her white fiancÚ (Ashton Kutcher). Times have definitely changed because Ashton Kutcher is no Sidney Poitier, but Bernie Mac pretty much holds the film and the politics together in this mildly entertaining film.

Simon (Kutcher) is all set to tell his fiancÚ Theresa (Saldana) that he quit his job, when she tells him that they are going to New Jersey to visit her parents. Not only are they in town to tell them the news of their engagement, but they are there to celebrate their parents' 25th wedding anniversary. One of the main issues before getting there is that Theresa never mentioned to her folks that Simon is white. Dad Percy Jones (Mac) believes his daughter is seeing this successful brother who works for a big corporation. When the times comes to meet Simon, he is shocked and dismayed that he has deal with this no sport playing and no job individual. He does all he can to make sure that Simon and Theresa don't do any monkey business in his house, while he checks out if Simon can fit in with a black family.

The film works because of Bernie Mac. He brings his persona to this film and it feels genuine. He's tough when he needs to be and he's soft when it comes to matters of the heart. It's tough to categorize Kutcher. He's not a comedian, and he hasn't demonstrated enough dramatic skills to determine his range as an actor. He plays the role with blandness. But in fairness, his scene with Mac on the go cart brought out a few chuckles. Saldana continues to be impressive with each role she takes and with this role she adds some fire to her character. With race not a big factor these days as it was in 1968 and instead of having a scene that may stick out with today's audience and make it feel authentic, Sullivan decided to add more humor in regards to the discussion such as the scene when racial jokes are being displayed. When you think about it, this is nothing more than the black version of "Meet The Parents", but with the race card thrown into the mix. Mac keeps it lively and entertaining.