It’s no secret that the latest Tyler Perry production takes its cues (heck, it’s entire plot) from 2000’s Meet the Parents. The story of an honest, super-swell, good guy butting heads with his soon-to-be father in law is nothing new, so it falls on Peeples‘ cast and the script to help it rise out of derivative-ville and avoid being a complete waste of time.
Fortunately writer-director Tina Gordon Chism (Drumline) succeeds. No, Peeples won’t survive the year on many (if any) people’s list of favorite films, but it does have the right amount of charm and good humor to end up “cute” and “fun” and “pretty good”.
Wade Walker (Craig Robinson) is the decent guy at the center of it all. A Raffi-like singer of kids’ songs (with a psychological bent), he’s been happily dating lawyer Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington) for the past year. He’s just about to pop the question when she announces that she’s heading (solo) to the annual Peeples family outing in The Hamptons (Wade refers to the brood as the “chocolate Kennedys”).
Turns out Grace hasn’t even mentioned Wade to her family, and with good reason. Dad Virgil (David Alan Grier) is a stuffy federal judge, and no one’s good enough for his daughter. Fortunately Grace’s hip mom (S. Epatha Merkerson) finds Wade completely charming and is there to run interference.
The comedy of errors starts early and keeps on rolling. As you’d expect, everything that could go wrong for Wade does; he loses his wallet and can’t pay for the groceries, he gets dry-humped by the family dog, and he’s so jinxed that he’s even blamed for the bad weather. And this is all before we even get to Virgil happening to catch a glimpse of Wade and his baby girl getting freaky.
Other highlights from the Meet the Parents story line are also present– almost too many to count (thankfully, though, we’re spared the makeshift lie detector and the humiliating false accusation scene). Give credit to Robinson, though– he’s calm and cool and charming enough to breathe some life into what could have been a tired attempt at stale comedy.
Credit also goes to some of the supporting players, including Malcolm Barrett, who’s almost Dave Chappelle-like as Wade’s irreverent brother Chris, and also to Washington, who’s so cute and likeable that it’s obvious why Wade would be put up with all of Virgil’s crap.
Ultimately, there’s not much in the way of originality being brought to the table, but even though the source material might be old hat, Peeples proves it’s all in how you wear it.