Tyler Perry Presents Peeples is a bad movie, but it's not a bad movie
for a special reason. It's a lame, tired trudge through the kind of
cutesy, "look at me" romantic-comedy genre of cinema that almost never
feels as if it is trying. Films like these are usually an easy-sell to
the public because there simply isn't a whole lot to stomach. Even
during the climatic parts of the film does it feel that there isn't a
whole lot going on in terms of development and plot progression. These
pictures exist to provide audiences members with the kind of
ninety-minute material that will not better them in any way, but not
make them think too hard or burden them in any way.
If that's what you want, Peeples delivers on a level that pleases. For
those seeking more intelligent fare, all I can say is seek on. The film
feels like an urban redux of Meet the Parents, this time focusing on
the likable but bland Wade Walker (Craig Robinson), a good-intentioned
soul who makes a living off of singing songs to kids urging them to use
their words and not their bodily fluids (?). He is dating the cute but
equally bland Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington), who seems to be light
years out of his league. Wade feels upset and unfulfilled that he
hasn't been acquainted with Grace's family and decides that, in order
to propose to her, he should crash the family's weekend stay in the
The head of the family is the bitter, mean-spirited Virgil Peeples
(David Alan Grier), who sees Wade's good-natured but ill-fated attempts
at connection and resonance as foolish ways to climb up the ladder of
likability. He is more won over by Daphne Peeples (S. Epatha
Merkerson), Grace's mother, and "Sy" (Tyler James Williams), their
What unfolds is a series of predictable and lame antics from a textbook
of what a comedy can do to go from mediocre to nearly unwatchable in
record time. The cast has all been cheery and capable before, but throw
them together with some of the worst writing of the year in terms of
realism and tonality and you have an affair that is just incredibly
difficult to stay in-tuned with, even if only for ninety-five minutes.
Returning to the point of realism, the film seems to predicate its
humor off of the unrealistic way the Peeples' respond to Wade's charm
and affection for their daughter. They react in a way that no parent,
ever, would respond to their daughter's boyfriend's acts of kindness.
Much of this played-out, unrealistic cynicism comes from Grier's
Virgil, who is so lowly human and condescending to Wade and his family
that his character never comes close to the line of being funny or
There's a scene that absolutely slayed me and that involved Wade,
Grace, Virgil, and another member of the Peeples' distance family
sitting in the living room and talking about what Wade wants to do in
his future. After they take turns belittling him and treating his "play
it by ear" plans as lunacy, Wade stands up and is about to propose to
Grace when Daphne calls for suppertime. Everyone remarks about how
excited they are for dinner and leave poor Wade standing alone in the
living room, interrupted and with a lesser-ego. If Wade had done that
to, say, Virgil, he'd be crucified.
It's that kind of instance we're supposed to regard as funny or
entertaining. Maybe my humanity for characters in films has increased
since I began reviewing, but it's scenes like that I find inexcusable
and implausible. If the family hadn't been so unbelievable, acting like
compulsive cults with military precision wearing raincoats at the
smallest mention of rain and boasting Timex watches day-in and day-out,
that scene alone would've been enough to regard every attempt the film
has at emotional resonance or relatability has not only facile but
The film was written and directed by Tina Gordon Chism, who is
responsible for writing the charismatic film Drumline that featured a
young Nick Cannon and unmissable energy. While Tyler Perry's name is
featured prominently at the forefront of the film's title, I don't
blame him for the turnout. He can only fund money and input so much
creative control into such a project. If he had manned the production
ship, I would've at least respected earnest attempts at creating drama.
Not implausible ones.
If you want a more unconventional film, with real human-interest,
ethical issues, complex family relations, and even a romantic subplot
try and seek out Jeff Nichols' brilliant Mud as your weekend diversion.
It's a truly beautiful picture with themes and a wonderful sense of
adventure - the kinds of things cinema was erected off of. Peeples is
the cinematic equivalent of flat soda.
NOTE: My video review of Tyler Perry Presents Peeples,
Starring: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, S. Epatha
Merkerson, and Tyler James Williams. Directed by: Tina Gordon Chism.