‘Guess’ which movie fails to deliver original humor?

Robert Taylor

Try as he may; Ashton Kutcher can’t hide his ubiquity from Zoe Saldana in Guess Who.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Guess what? I just had to sit through another movie where the talentless Ashton Kutcher drained the life out of every scene he was in but still managed to cause every female in the theater to swoon multiple times.

Guess Who is a loose remake of the film Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, where Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey learned that Sidney Poitier was about to become their son-in-law. I like the original film, but wouldn’t call it a classic as many film historians do. That film’s concept has been retooled to find Kutcher (shudder) meeting his soon-to-be-in-laws Bernie Mac and Judith Scott.

Kutcher had just quit his job on Wall Street and hasn’t told his fiancé when they arrive to meet her parents. Mac, however, has done a background check on Kutcher and knows he has just quit his job. His fiancé, Theresa, played by Zoe Saldana, hasn’t told her parents that Kutcher is white. The rest of the movie is about Kutcher becoming one of the family despite all the sitcom-level shenanigans (go-kart races, strange bed partners) Mac pulls.

Mac is a wonderful comedic actor, and most of the cast shines, but they are saddled with dialogue and jokes that seem like they were ripped-off from a bad sitcom. Especially with Kutcher, the timing of their delivery is always off just a few seconds.

The situations the characters find themselves in aren’t much better. Mac decides Kutcher shouldn’t sleep in the same bed as his daughter so he makes Kutcher sleep on the couch downstairs … and just to be perfectly sure, Mac sleeps with him. Uh huh. Or how about the moment where Kutcher is playfully trying on his fiancé’s lingerie when Mac walks in to find the two in a compromising position. Ho ho.

Now while Kutcher was trying on the lingerie some obviously horny females farther up in the theater began to howl and moan, culminating in one saying very bluntly “Hey, I’d (insert expletive here) him even if he was wearing that!”

There were more, not as colorful, phrases uttered from the women during the rest of the movie (I would have loved to hear what they said about Kutcher while he was running around for minutes at a time in just his boxers during Just Married or when a dog attacked his crotch in Cheaper By The Dozen).

The subject matter of the movie interested me greatly. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner had to play it perfectly safe and had no leeway in the type of humor it presented because of the times, and I was looking forward to seeing how the writers tackled that brand of comedy in 2005. To my surprise, it seemed that the main goal of the film was to push to race undertones to the side as much as possible.

This is especially odd when the movie works when the issue of race is being tackled. The high point of the film is the dinner scene where the screenwriters tackle the issue head-on, but for the rest of the film they just seem content to infer things that would better off said. I loathe it when movies play it this safe.

Guess Who is a real disappointment, but it has its bright moments where Mac and other cast members shine. If only they had a screenplay willing to tackle the tough issues and an actor with enough charisma to match Mac this could have been great.

Contact Pop Arts reporter Robert Taylor at [email protected].