How Stella Got Her Groove Back
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1 item from 2005

Guess Who

26 April 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Movie buffs need not fret.

Despite taking a bite out of the original title, Guess Who actually has a lot more in common with Meet the Parents -- in both content and tone -- than it does with Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

At the same time, this smartly cast romantic comedy manages to address still-relevant issues of race without the preachiness that aged less than gracefully in Stanley Kramer's 1967 serving of social commentary.

Mix in a pair of inspired performances by Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher, and you've got a certified crowd-tickler with a lot more substance than the last Focker family gathering.

Mac, a man with one of the best slow burns in the business, essentially tries the Spencer Tracy role on for size as Percy Jones, a proud family man and bank loan officer who's about to mark the 25th anniversary of his marriage to Marilyn (Judith Scott) with a big outdoor party at their suburban Cranford, N.J., home.

Arriving for the festivities is their daughter Theresa (Zoe Saldana), along with her as-yet-unintroduced boyfriend, whom Percy envisions as a suitable beau with the looks of a Denzel, the smarts of a Colin Powell and the competitive edge of a Tiger Woods.

Enter Ashton Kutcher.

Needless to say, Kutcher's Simon Green doesn't exactly hit it off wonderfully with overprotective Mr. Jones, and things go from bad to worse when the truth is revealed about financier Green's current state of employment -- as in freshly terminated -- which puts a bit of a crimp in the young couple's plans to announce their engagement.

Key to the success of Guess Who is that adversarial Mac-Kutcher chemistry, and both are working at the top of their games.

While Mac, who actually brought the update idea to producer Jenno Topping, has previously demonstrated his sharply honed big-screen comedic chops, Kutcher cements his post-That '70s Show future with what is easily his most accomplished feature film role to date.

Providing very capable backup, meanwhile, is Saldana as Kutcher's grounded fiancee and Scott as Mac's tolerant-to-a-point wife.

Also entertaining are vet Hal Williams as Mac's no-nonsense father and Kellee Stewart as Mac's youngest daughter, who figures that her sister's bringing home a white boy will provide her with a whole lot of leeway in the good-girl department.

The film also serves as a personal best for director Kevin Rodney Sullivan, who after Barbershop 2 and How Stella Got Her Groove Back has found a more assured comfort zone when it comes to blending comedy and elements of greater social significance, as provided here by the script credited to David Ronn & Jay Scherick and Peter Tolan.

While the mix doesn't always flow smoothly, especially in the protracted third act, there's sufficient promise on the menu to suggest the distinct possibility of a return dinner engagement.

Guess Who

Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures and Regency Enterprises present

a 3 Arts/Tall Trees/Katalyst Films production


Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan

Screenwriters: David Ronn & Jay Scherick and Peter Tolan

Story: David Ronn & Jay Scherick

Producers: Jenno Topping, Erwin Stoff, Jason Goldberg

Executive producers: Betty Thomas, Steven Greener, Joseph M. Caracciolo

Director of photography: Karl Watler Lindenlaub

Production designer: Paul J. Peters

Editor: Paul Seydor

Costume designer: Judy Ruskin Howell

Music: John Murphy

Casting: Victoria Thomas


Percy Jones: Bernie Mac

Simon Green: Ashton Kutcher

Theresa Jones: Zoe Saldana

Marilyn Jones: Judith Scott

Howard Jones: Hal Williams

Keisha Jones: Kellee Stewart

MPAA rating PG-13

Running time -- 105 minutes »

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