MRR Review: "Peeples"

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Writer and first-time director Tina Gordon Chism joins forces with Tyler Perry to present a laugh-out-loud look at the family ties that freak us out and ultimately bind us together with love. The story line centers around a well-off East Coast family of the title name as they gather to celebrate a reunion weekend in the Hampton's. The idyllic retreat is interrupted when Wade (Craig Robinson) shows up looking to propose to the daughter, Grace (Kerry Washington).

MRR Review: "Peeples"

-- Rating: PG-13
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: May 10, 2013
Directed by: Tina Gordon Chism
Genre: Comedy

"Peeples" is a charming comedy that's reminiscent of the 2000 smash hit "Meet the Parents." With writer and director Tina Gordon Chism at the helm and "The Office" veteran Craig Robinson in the lead role, "Peeples" is a movie that aims to please.

Wade Walker (Craig Robinson) is an aspiring child therapist who has found a new niche writing and singing children's songs. One of his biggest hits is a toilet-training ditty titled "Speak It, Don't Leak It." Wade's girlfriend, Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington), is a successful attorney and the daughter to wealthy and class-conscious parents. Her father, Virgil (David Alan Grier), is a federal judge, and her mother, Daphne (S. Epatha Merkerson), is a veteran socialite and recovering alcoholic. Although Wade is ready to pop the question to Grace, she has yet to introduce him to her parents for fear of their disapproval.

Grace leaves the city behind one summer weekend for the Peeples' annual reunion in Sag Harbor without inviting Wade. Not deterred in his quest to become her husband, he shows up unannounced with the intent of asking her father for his daughter's hand in marriage. From here, most of the storyline takes the audience through several fish-out-of-water scenarios, with Wade leading the way to hilarity.

Several subplots are woven into the storyline, such as the coming out of Grace's sister, Gloria (Kali Hawk), and her significant other, Meg (Kimrie Lewis-Davis). Then there's Grace's younger brother, Simon (Tyler James Williams), who's a closet kleptomaniac, and the secret life of her father who indulges in skinny-dipping with hippies in the middle of the night. The only secret Nana Peeples (Diahann Carroll) and Grandpa Peeples (Melvin Van Peebles) have is how they manage to put Wade right back in his place with little more than a look and a few words.

Robinson continues to delight viewers with his calm demeanor and hilarious antics. In one scene, the Peeples parade Wade around town riding a giant tricycle. In another, Wade tries to outlast Virgil in a sauna. At one point, Wade's brother (Malcolm Barrett) who is a doll surgeon shows up at the Peeples, making everything just a little bit crazier. The ultimate comedic scene, however, is when Wade accidentally gets high on mushrooms before heading into town with the Peeples for a reenactment of the "Moby Dick" story.

Craig Robinson steals the show in his role as Wade Walker. Robinson started his acting career in 2001 and landed a recurring role in the television series "Lucky" by 2003. He then spent several years making guest appearances on some hit shows, including "The Bernie Mac Show," "Friends," and "Arrested Development," before finding his way to the big screen in 2007. Despite having made several movies, Robinson's real breakout role was that of Darrell on the hit television series "The Office," a role he played from 2005 until the series ended in 2013. While "The Office" was in production, he also played the role of LaVar "Freight Train" Brown on another television series, "The Cleveland Show." Although he has yet to receive any awards, he received eight award nominations for "The Office."

Kerry Washington, appropriately cast in the role of Grace Peeples, made her acting debut at the tender age of seventeen when she played the role of Heather in a 1994 "ABC Afterschool Special." By 2000, she was acting regularly, with one-off appearances in hit television shows including "NYPD Blue" and "Law and Order." While she was no stranger to film or television, she didn't really find her breakout role until 2005 when she was cast as Chelina Hall on "Boston Legal." Prior to filming "Peeples," she played roles in "For Colored Girls," "A Thousand Words," and "Django Unchained." She has won eight awards, including a Teen Choice Award for her role in the 2001 film "Save the Last Dance" and Image Awards for her roles in the 2012 productions of "Scandal" and "Django Unchained."

David Alan Grier and S. Epatha Merkerson were also perfectly cast in their roles as the posh Peeples patriarch and matriarch. Both are veteran actors with drama and comedy roles under their belts and a host of awards to back up their acting chops.

While the underlying plot of "Peeples" might have been done before, Craig Robinson and a star-studded cast breathe new life into it. This is a movie that will make you laugh time and time again before it leaves you wanting more. Now that "The Office" has come to an end, perhaps moviegoers will have a chance to be treated to more of Robinson's comedic acting in the future.

Rating: 3 out of 5