Craig Robinson as Wade Walker
Kerry Washington as Grace Peeples
David Alan Grier as Judge Virgil Peeples
S. Epatha Merkerson as Daphne Peeples
Tyler James Williams as Simon Peeples
Melvin Van Peebles as Grandpa Peeples
Diahann Caroll as Nana Peeples
Kali Hawk as Gloria Peeples
In theaters May 10
Wade Walker (Robinson) is just your average guy who pays the bills by writing and performing “creative” yet helpful songs for children, such as by helping them with what to do if they have to pee. The focal point of his life is his upper crust, live in girlfriend Grace. Grace (Washington) comes from a wealthy, educated family so rarified that Wade has dubbed them “The Chocolate Kennedys.” Grace has yet to tell her family, more specifically her federal judge father (David Alan Grier) that she is involved with, let alone living with, someone which is a speed bump in their relationship. Grace is set to go and spend a weekend with the family at their home in the Hamptons, but without Wade. Alas, Wade has a secret. He has been working up the nerve to propose to Grace and decides to follow her to Sag Harbor to meet her family and pop the question. Reluctantly, Grace introduces Wade to the family, more importantly to her federal Judge father, who has no idea who he is since Grace has never mentioned him. Wade wants to make a good impression, but everything, and I mean EVERYTHING gets off on the wrong foot. Will Wade prove himself to Grace’s family through all the hilarious misunderstandings and finally propose?
Peeples is a wonderful family comedy written by Tina Gordon Chism, writer of “Drumline” and “ATL.” This film also marks her directing debut. “Peeples” is also co-produced by Tyler Perry, but don’t expect the over-the-top shenanigans of “Medea.” Tyler was pretty much hands off on this and let Tina run. Ms. Chism has given us a genuinely brilliant and entertaining comedy without being too sitcomish. Sure, it is slightly predictable, but it’s not a problem as there are definitely some unexpected highlights such as Grace’s mother, played brilliantly by “Law and Order’s” S. Epatha Merkerson. She is an ex 70s soul singer who is in AA, but has a penchant for mushrooms (yes, those kind of mushrooms). Her little brother, Tyler James Williams from “Everybody Hates Chris,” is a computer science geek just trying to get his gangster swag on, and her CNN correspondent sister who has yet to admit to her family that her female cameraperson is more than just a friend. The cast is rounded out by two icons in black film and television. Grace’s grandmother is played by one of my earliest influences, Diahann Caroll, who lovingly accepts that her granddaughter is “that way,” but doesn’t quite understand it, and her grandfather is played by 70s blacksploitation film icon Melvin Van Peebles. Also keep an eye out for another of my faves “SNL” alum Ana Gastyer, who has a small but interesting cameo role.
There are not many modern films that can actually be referred to with that lovely classic phrase “Screwball Comedy”, but “Peeples” can; this is timeless! It is actually a thoughtful and a good, lighthearted laugh. I guarantee you’ll walk out of the theatre with a great feeling.