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An average comedy

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI

If sitcoms cost $3 a pop, “Guess Who” would be a great deal. But they don’t, and “Guess Who” is not.As a half-hour sitcom, “Guess Who” would excel by delivering five times as many laughs per segment than the usual sitcom. But the beauty of sitcoms is that they only come once a week, and they last less than 30 minutes. Sitting through 105 minutes of slightly above-average comedy, complete with its misunderstandings, one-liners and canned tension gets old, especially when you can’t curl up on your couch in your PJs to watch it.

“Guess Who” updates the 1967 “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” about a white woman who brings her black boyfriend home to meet her parents. Only the 2005 version uses the premise to squeeze out comedy rather than make a statement about race relations, as its predecessor did. It reverses roles, making Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher) the misfit in Percy Jones’ (Bernie Mac) family.Kutcher and Mac play off one another seamlessly, right down to the tango scene, where Kutcher comically extends Patrick Swayze’s “This is my dance space. This is your dance space” scene in “Dirty Dancing.”

But as entertaining as some scenes are, the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. In fact, both the parts and the sum seem a little worn.Four movies sprung to mind as I watched “Guess Who,” the most obvious being “Meet the Parents.” Many of the funniest parts also borrowed from “Dirty Dancing,” “Father of the Bride,” “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and nearly every romantic comedy that doesn’t stand out because it relies on the same boy-meets-girl formula.

I can’t imagine how tired – and superficial – it would’ve felt if I had seen “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”If you love Kutcher and Mac, it’s worth the price of admission because their chemistry comes to life on the big screen. But if you only like one or the other, there’s always reruns of “That ’70s Show” or “The Bernie Mac Show.”


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