Movie Review: Peeples

“Peeples” is the latest dramatic comedy from notable filmmaker Tyler Perry. Craig Robinson of “The Office” fame takes a sharp turn away from his easygoing character, Daryl, and plays the film’s hopeful romantic lead, Wade Walker. Wade is in love with a successful and beautiful woman named Grace Peeples, played by the lovely Kerry Washington. Grace is a daddy’s girl through and through, and her deep attachment to her family is an important part of her personal identity. Wade recognizes and appreciates this in spite of not having an equally close relationship with his own family.

The story begins with Wade’s efforts to propose to Grace ending up in a constant series of frustrations. In fact, he begins to think his beloved is purposely sabotaging his attempts to ask for her hand in marriage. What’s more, in spite of her close relationship with her family and her father in particular, Grace has yet to introduce Wade to her family. Understandably nervous, Wade sets out on a well-intentioned if poorly executed plan to crash the annual Peeples family reunion to ask for Grace’s hand in marriage while surrounded by her beloved family.

As can be expected, the plan goes horribly awry. The Peeples are a close-knit clan of wealthy and beautiful professionals and overachievers. David Alan Grier plays Grace’s father, Virgil Peeples, a man who’s climbed his way up both the professional and the social ladders to rest in his seat as a federal judge. Following in her father’s footsteps, Grace is a successful attorney working with the United Nations on a variety of important international affairs. The rest of the family is sprinkled with socialites and professionals who have excelled in their fields to the point where the Peeples family reunion could easily be the scene of a major press conference.

Wade begins to lament his humble profession as a children’s entertainer and teacher. At first, he makes the mistake of trying to fit in with the illustrious Peeples clan, which of course results in disaster. Wade has the clarity of an outsider’s view, so he’s able to see beyond what meets the eye and right into the flaws of the seemingly perfect family members.

“Peeples” is fraught with tension as Wade struggles to navigate the new and intimidating world of his hopeful in-laws. Craig Robinson plays a refreshingly optimistic and proactive role that sharply contrasts with his character Daryl from “The Office.” Fans of Robinson will enjoy seeing him in the shoes of the romantic hero, which he wears quite well. Wade Walker is a relatable leading man, possessing neither the career path nor the physique viewers would expect of a hero. Instead, he gets the girl through his charm, his humor, and a nurturing spirit.

One of the most relatable aspects of the movie is Wade’s ability to see through the perfectly crafted veneers of the Peeples family. The major moral of “Peeples” is no family is perfect, and it’s the relationships that bind families together, even more than their collective successes. The supporting cast is charming, with plenty of comic relief via Malcolm Barrett, playing Wade’s brother, and Melvin Van Peebles, starring as Grandpa Peeples. Wade’s brother comes in as both a form of backup and a liability, and Grandpa Peeples serves as a welcome reminder of the family’s humble beginnings.

Tyler Perry’s regular character Madea is notably missing from his latest film, an absence that could be seen as a blessing or a curse depending on the viewer. Madea’s over-the-top antics would leave a comedic vacuum if it weren’t for a charming and witty supporting cast.

Another winning aspect of the film is David Alan Grier’s performance as Virgil. The overprotective dad is forced to take a journey toward self-enlightenment in addition to realizing his family is changing. He eventually learns that letting go of his adult daughter doesn’t mean losing her but rather gaining a new member of the family. While he is reluctant to get to know Wade at first and would rather summarily judge him as he’s used to doing in his day job, he finally concedes to the fact that everyone is entitled to a fair trial, sons-in-law included.

Fans of Tyler Perry movies will be satisfied with “Peeples” despite that it’s missing Perry’s iconic character, Madea. They might even come to love the Peeples family as much as Perry’s regulars do. With plenty of family drama, hidden secrets, and lots of laughs, “Peeples” is a sure induction into the Tyler Perry hall of fame.