Peeples, a new comedy that despite the ‘Tyler Perry Presents’ tag is actually the directorial debut of Tina Gordon Chism, who also wrote the film, while Perry acted as co-producer. The film stars Craig Robinson of The Office and Kerry Washington of Scandal.

Robinson plays Wade Walker, a man who makes a career out of singing inspirational songs to young children (that usually deal with urinating on themselves), with the deeper aspiration of becoming a child therapist. Wade’s well-educated girlfriend, Grace Peeples (Washington), is a successful lawyer who wants to avoid introducing Wade to her status conscious father, Judge Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier) in fear that he’ll ultimately disapprove of their relationship. After Grace leaves to spend some much needed time with her family, Wade decides to take matters into his own hands, following Grace to her family’s spectacular Sag Harbor beach house surprising the Peeples who, unfortunately for Wade, don’t know he exists.

Robinson tries his hands at a leading man role, playing into the chubby, funny-guy archetype, while Washington is leaving behind the ultra serious ‘Olivia Pope’ in exchange for a bland disposable upper-class character. Though slightly different for Perry and Chism (best known for writing Drumline and ATL), the plot quickly reveals to be nothing more than a struggling impersonation of Meet the Parents, without the cheeky daring antics of Robert De Niro’s character.

With overly obnoxious, cheap and boring jokes, Peeples follows the cliché father-hates-son-in-law motif. Grier spends 88 of the films 95 minutes snarling and challenging Robinson, then miraculously, as if no one saw it coming, the two make a peace treaty and the Peeples are just one big happy family, or as Wade calls them, “the chocolate Kennedys”.

The actors have a lot of comedic potential, however the film simply isn’t ambitious enough “to go there”, and stays to a very limited script with little room to develop the characters and fully engage audiences. It’s safe to say that the first half of the film is hopeful yet quickly proves to be boring and predictable. The second half fairs a little better with a couple scattered laughs, but a couple laughs in 95 minutes doesn’t add up to a good time. It was painful waiting to see if Robinson’s character would finally come out of his shell and really push boundaries in this film, and it’s disappointing to say that Wade Walker is safe, never getting too rude, crude or vulgar. Yet even with staying safe the only thing that remotely saves this film from being a complete flop is Robinson’s innate likeability. But with that said, knowing what Robinson is capable of, he and fans deserve more out of this forgettable performance.

Peeples is comprised of a talented cast, who because of lackluster writing appear mediocre. It is for that reason that in the end this film fails to make a lasting impression. The problem with Peeples is that it isn’t exciting and offers nothing out of rom-com ordinary. The disapproving father and adoring daughter act has been seen many times, and Peeples doesn’t attempt to revamp that “been-there-done-that” plot. Here’s hoping that Chism’s sophomore effort will win over more people, than Peeples.

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