Tyler Perry Presents Peeples

Directed By: Tina Gordon Chism

Starring: Kerry Washington, Craig Robinson, David Alan Grier, Diahann Carroll, Tyler James Williams, and Kali Hawk

Tyler Perry Presents Peeples is the most ostentatious title for a movie I've ever heard in my entire life.  I understand that producer Tyler Perry wants to associate his name and his brand with the film to fill theaters around the country.  He's trying to make some money.  I completely get that.  However, that doesn't mean that his name has to be in the damn title.  That's something that just reflects poorly on his brand.

There are thousands of movies that have been directed by lesser known filmmakers but produced by well-known ones.  In 99.9% of those cases, the big name producers just throw their names on the trailers, posters, and other promotional materials for the film.  Take the upcoming Man of Steel for example.  Christopher Nolan's name is all over that movie's advertisements, but it's not in the title.  Perry branding the film this way is an unnecessary move that predisposes me to not liking the movie, as if I needed motivation beyond the film itself.

Wade Walker (Craig Robinson) and Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington) have been dating for a year now and live together in an apartment in New York City.  Having been together for quite some time now, Wade is ready to take their relationship to the next level and is ready to propose to her with his grandmother's wedding ring.  The only problem is that every time he tries to have a serious conversation with Grace, she blurts out their safe word "peanuts".  Just like that, every discussion is over, especially the one regarding Wade actually meeting Grace's family.

It just so happens that Grace is going to her family's summer home in the Hamptons to celebrate Moby Dick Day, an annual tradition where her family comes together with the townspeople to honor Herman Melville and his beloved text.  Tired of Grace not sharing the chocolate Kennedys and seeing the perfect opportunity to pop the big question, Wade follows her down there and finally meets the Peeples family.  There's just one tiny problem.  Grace has never told her family that Wade even exists, and her father Judge Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier) has no intention of welcoming Wade to the family under the most unexpected circumstances. 

"Speak It.   Don't Leak It".  That's the signature song of Peeples, a song about teaching kids to tell their parents that they need to relieve themselves rather than actually urinating on themselves.  If Tina Gordon Chism had decided to incorporate some more mature humor than cheesy nonsense like "Speak It.  Don't Leak It.", Peeples would have been a really good family comedy.  The potential was there.  Instead, it's a strange black version of Meet the Parents where the circle of trust is a Moby Dick-loving clan with some weird family traditions.

We get a mixed bag of performances from the cast.  As Wade Walker, Craig Robinson keeps the chuckles coming, but he doesn't give us the comedic genius we all know and love.  He's pretty tame throughout the movie.  When he does get wild and crazy, he's too silly dancing in 70s costumes and getting molested by the Peeples' dog.  For her part as Grace Peeples, Kerry Washington does a great job as always.  She plays the innocuous daddy's little girl quite well, almost as well as the naughty school girl she plays with Robinson's Wade.

It saddens me to say that the chocolate Kennedys don't get the job done in Peeples.  As Judge Peeples, David Alan Grier is not half as funny as he thinks he is on screen.  He's pretty bland on the whole.  As his wife Daphne, S. Epatha Merkerson is crazy but not crazy funny.  The same can be said for Tyler James Williams and his performance as their son Simon.  Lastly, we have the beautiful but boring Kali Hawk as Gloria Peeples.  She's the dullest lesbian I've ever seen on screen.

Tyler Perry Presents Peeples is predictable fare, but it does have some enjoyable moments.  It's unfortunate that Chism underutilizes the breadth of talent she has on her cast.  From Craig Robinson to Tyler James Williams, there are plenty of television and film veterans on hand that could deliver big laughs.  They just never do.  Peeples gets a 0.09% rating.  Have some Cosmos with this one.