Sometimes I think that all the myths and fairy tales about scary monsters, dragons, and ogres are just metaphors for life’s most terrifying meeting — the introduction to the family of one’s beloved. Every family is its own country, with its own language and customs. The pressure of trying to make a good impression while navigating the dynamics and cultural imperatives of another family and supporting the significant other is terrifying. And when it happens to someone else, it is funny, which makes it a popular theme in movies going back to “Abie’s Irish Rose,” and up through “Meet the Parents.”
Tyler Perry loves raucous family conflicts, and here he produces the latest “meet the family” comedy, written and directed by Tina Gordon Chism (“Drumline”). Wade (funny man Craig Robinson in his first romantic and leading role) wants to propose to Grace (“Scandal’s” Kerry Washington). But she has never let him meet her family, an intimidating group of high-achievers he refers to as “the chocolate Kennedys.” “Peeples,” the homey family name that makes them sound a little bit like Weebles, is a sly contrast with a group so imposing and remote a better name for them could be “the chocolate Mt. Rushmores.”
Wade decides to surprise Grace by showing up at her family’s magnificent home on the beach. (“You probably have Oprah dollars.”) He’s the one who gets surprised when he finds out that his girlfriend has not even told her family that she is seeing someone. It turns out that her stern and demanding father Virgil (David Alan Grier) has such impossibly high standards that she does not even want to risk allowing him to apply. Virgil is a judge by profession and a judge by nature. Grace knows that the easy-going Wade, whose current job consists of singing a song about potty training to children, will not fit in with her highly competitive, uptight family.
But Wade sees immediately that Grace’s family is not as perfect as they want to pretend to themselves and everyone else. Grace’s mother Daphne (S. Epatha Merkerson) has a couple of secrets. So do Grace’s broadcast journalist sister (Kali Hawk) and teenage brother (Tyler James Williams). At first, Wade makes things much worse when he tries to fit in and begins to feel threatened and insecure. Things get more complicated when his own brother (Malcolm Barrett) shows up.
The humor is often crude and silly, but it is so good-hearted and the performers are so appealing that like Wade and the Peeples, it might win your heart.
Parents should know that this film as very crude and raunchy humor, explicit sexual references and situations, drinking, marijuana, and very strong language.
Family discussion: What is the scariest thing about meeting the family of your significant other? What did Grace’s family learn from Wade?
If you like this, try: “Jumping the Broom” and “Meet the Parents”