A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has some sexual humor, including jokes about masturbation, cross-dressing, and gays. A character asks "What's the sex like?" and there is some discussion of what white men's sex organs look like. There is humor about racism, including a list of racist terms for white people. A great deal is made of the fact that Simon and Percy share a bed (as a way of making sure that Simon and Theresa don't sleep together) and end up cuddling.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
This very loose remake of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner reverses the mixed-race couple situation, with the white boyfriend (Ashton Kutcher) who describes himself as "pigment-challenged" and who must get the approval of the black girl's father (Bernie Mac). It's just an excuse for a series of silly situations and conflicts as Simon lies to Percy about his participation in sports and Percy lies to a co-worker, describing Simon as a basketball-playing graduate of Howard University who knows Bill Cosby and Jesse Jackson. There are also some other half-hearted attempts at plot developments that are around long enough to be annoying but not long enough to get resolved. Percy takes Simon to race go-carts and Simon tries to keep everyone from finding out that he quit his job. But you know they'll find an Ebony-and-Ivory bond by the big party at the end.
Is it any good?
This movie feels like generic slapstick rather than social commentary. Nearly 40 years ago, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was a serious, even a little heavy-handed, but endearingly earnest drama. It was considered a provocative, even daring, statement about what we used to call "civil rights" issues. But times have changed, and Guess Who is closer to a remake of Meet the Parents than it is to its purported original source.
No one does choleric better than Bernie Mac and it is always fun to see him get steamed. Kutcher manages to stay out of Mac's way (and his own) and Zoe Saldana shows warmth and sweetness as Theresa. Kellee Stewart as Theresa's sister gets to show more sass and sparkle, especially when she explains how Theresa's relationship with Simon improved her own life. The movie would have been much more fun if she had been the fiancée, and perhaps if we got a look at Simon's family as well. Instead, we got unfunny scenes at a go-cart track (they go off the track!) and at an all-women party (they get tipsy and trash men!). And the prospect of a Meet Simon's Family sequel.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether any of them can remember a time when it was actually illegal in some states for people of different races to get married.
They could read the Supreme Court decision that invalidated those laws as unconstitutional. It's shocking today to realize that the laws were in place until that decision was issued in 1967, the same year as the original Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. The very-apt name of the landmark case is Loving v. Virginia.
Families who see this movie could talk about the jokes Simon told. Which made fun of white people and which made fun of black people? They could also talk about their own family reactions to marriages that cross racial, religious, or other kinds of lines.