Remake Guess Who shows flip side of Hollywood norms



Boy meets girl. They decide to get engaged. Boy plans to meet girl’s parents. Boy and girl arrive at the front doorstep of her adoring, open-minded and “liberal” parent, to surprise mom and dad.

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Percy Jones (Bernie Mac) is a prideful man who thinks he knows everything, especially when it comes to his family.

His daughter Theresa (Zoe Saldana) announces that she will bring her new boyfriend Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher), a successful stockbroker, home to meet Percy, mother Marilyn (Judith Scott) and the rest of the Jones clan.

More than eager to meet this young man, Percy has already envisioned him as a combination of Denzel Washington, Colin Powell and Tiger Woods. In order to get a jump on the situation, Percy runs a credit report on Simon and is very impressed with him on paper, due in part to the fact that Theresa’s ex-boyfriends were all struggling artist types.

He has no idea that Theresa and Simon plan to announce their engagement at Percy and Marilyn’s anniversary party. And that is not the only surprise the newly engaged couple neglected to share before Theresa presents her boyfriend o her parents: Percy is white.

Guess Who? is a remake of the 1967 classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? starring Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracey and Sydney Poitier.

In the original, Hepburn and Tracy play the liberal parents of a daughter who decides to surprise them with a dinner guest. They are then awed by the appearance of Poitier, the dinner guest, not only because their daughter is engaged, not only because Poitier is a successful doctor, but because he is black.

The obvious discomfort with the situation wears on the faces of Hepburn and Tracy like bad drag queen make-up.

In the 2005 version, a more comedic but just as taboo stance is taken on the issue of interracial relationships. Humor is used to address the issues faced by many who happen to fall in love with someone of another race.

Scenes like the one at the dinner table when Simon tries to prove he is not prejudiced by telling black jokes are perfect examples of how barriers can be broken down as long as everyone can laugh at themselves sometimes.

The fact the Theresa comes from a well-to-do black family and Simon, a white male, is from a single-parent home speaks volumes to the change that is slowly taking place in Hollywood to give a more fair depiction of what the world is really like.

The flip side is the norm in Hollywood: the representation of whites as socioeconomically superior. So when moviegoers leave the theater, they take with them a reinforced picture of stereotypical depictions of different races.

It is safe to say that this movie could not have been more tasteful and truthful than it was with Kutcher and Mac heading the cast. Without going overboard, the humorous points were sufficient but did not overshadow the film’s lessons: be open-minded and non-judgmental.