Posted May 10, 2013 by in


Total Score

4/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: comedy
Director: Tina Gordon Chism
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Actors: Craig Robinson, David Alan Grier
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: 5/10/2013
Studio: 34th Street Films, Peeples Productions Inc.
What We Thought

If the movies have one good comedy so far this year, it’s Peeples, hands down.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Comedy has been in a depressing state for months now.  2013 has been the year of Movie 43A Haunted House, and Scary Movie 5.  Most laughs don’t come from comedies this year, but from other genres, like the animated adventure The Croods and super-hero flick Iron Man 3—movies that have comedic touches, but aren’t comedies as such.  Hell, The Call and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3Dmovies that weren’t trying to be funny at allwere funnier films than most comedic entries.  In a year with few movie events, without an Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises, there’s scarcely even a laugh to be found.
     And then Peeples comes along and saves Comedy.  Every scene is funny, every gag works, every performance gets a laugh.  Tina Gordon Chism deserves much of the credit, who both writes and directs in her debut at the helm.  Of course, credit also goes to stars Craig Robinson and In Living Color alum David Alan Grier, who make a winning comic team.
     Craig Robinson plays Wade Walker, a children’s musician who writes songs encouraging kids to talk about their feelings (rather than wetting their pants).  His girlfriend is Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington), a lawyer working at the U.N.  Grace goes off to visit her family in Sag Harbor.  Craig isn’t invited, but crashes the get-together anyway to ask her father Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier), a federal judge, for permission to marry his daughter before proposing to her.  But Grace hasn’t mentioned to her family that they’re living together, or that they’re dating.  Grace hasn’t actually mentioned Wade at all.
     Peeples, originally titled We the Peeples, is obviously inspired by Meet the Parents, but I mean that as a compliment; it’s inspired by the 2000 film, and uses the story as a skeleton to give structure to its own content:  its sight gags, clever exchanges, and one-liners.  Meet the Parents was more rom-com than pure comedy, where Peeples jettisons the romantic angle and just goes for laughs, and is a funnier film for it.  That’s right; Peeples is even funnier than the film that inspired it.
     This movie gets how comedy works.  Transgression, like irony, is one of the pillars of comedy.  There’s a scene where Wade and Grace engage in some role-playing one night in the guest house.  On its own, the situation would be something humorous happening, but not a joke with a setup and a punchline.  A lesser film would have let it go at that, but Peeples uses it as a setup for an absolutely hysterical punchline that’s worth the price of admission on its own.
     Of course, funny scenes need talented actors to bring the script to life, and the comedic chemistry of the cast makes that happen, especially Grier and Robinson, who play straight-man and comic foil respectively.  Peeples is smart enough to know that the goofiness of the foil can be the setup, and the look of disapproval on the straight-man’s face is the punchline.  Grier’s reaction shots in Peeples are simply priceless, and he makes this movie every bit as much as Robinson does.  The entire cast looks like its having a good timeso did I.
     Peeples isn’t subtle about what it’s about.  As Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was about inter-race relations (ditto Meet the Parents, with its text about Jewish-Christian relations), Peeples is about intra-race relations, about classism between African-Americans.  Wade is a stand-up guy, but not as professionally accomplished as Grace or her father Virgil.  However, the perfect family he’s trying to get into might not be so perfect after all, and Peeples uses that dysfunction for comic effect.
     2013 is nearly half-over.  Theaters have seen a host of mediocre misfires, like Jack the Giant Killer and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.  Action hasn’t seen anything like last year’s The Raid or even close to it.  Tween romance has gotten even worse with Beautiful Creatures, and to some extent The Host. Cinema is suffering, but if the movies have one good comedy so far this year, it’s Peeples, hands down.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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