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Too much old and borrowed

The gimmick for “Guess Who,” as everybody now knows, takes 1967’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” through the looking glass.Instead of Sidney Poitier meeting his white girlfriend’s parents, the update takes Ashton Kutcher to meet his girlfriend’s father, fellow Fox sitcom star Bernie Mac. The Fox bond, as other reviewers have pointed out, is important – maybe more important than its source material. I never saw the original, but I’d be surprised if “Guess Who” generates the incendiary buzz “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” did because it looks and feels a lot more like a sitcom than a classic comedic commentary on race relations.The closest match in tone for “Guess Who” among movies might be the original “Meet the Parents.” Even though “Guess Who” is neither as sharp or as consistent, it operates on the same mechanism, with an intimidating prospective in-law leading a witless paramour into humorous conversational and situational traps.”Meet the Parents” excelled in making audiences uncomfortable even while making them laugh. It also made Greg Focker’s small, understandable decisionmaking lapses add up to epic pratfalls involving fire, sewage and spray paint. “Guess Who” follows suit and ups the ante by adding the race card to the discomfort factor. But maybe having propelled “Meet the Parents” and its stupid sequel, the joke’s not as funny anymore, because “Guess Who” just seems a little flat.That’s not to say that it does have some very funny moments when it hits its stride, with Mac staring down Kutcher, who responds with a surprisingly good Bernie Mac impression. But “Guess Who?” only finds that vibe about 40 minutes from the end, having wasted most of its run time with the elaborate setup.That’s not to say that it does have some very funny moments when it hits its stride, with Mac staring down Kutcher, who responds with a surprisingly good Bernie Mac impression. But “Guess Who?” only finds that vibe about 40 minutes from the end, having wasted most of its run time with the elaborate setup.


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