Music and Movies / Film Analysis Guess Who And Guess Who'S Coming To Dinner

Film Analysis Guess Who And Guess Who'S Coming To Dinner

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Autor:  anton  07 October 2010
Tags:  Analysis,  Coming
Words: 1140   |   Pages: 5
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The Hollywood movie “Guess Who” (2005) is a remake of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967). Both film’s premises are about the same situation of an interracial marriage. The original revolved around a daughter bringing her black fiancйe to meet her white middle class family. This was a touchy and even controversial subject in 1967 but the film became an award winner. The 2005 update switches the roles around and with a stroke of genius we now have a white fiancйe meeting a black family.

Personally, I don’t think that 2005 Ashton Kuthcher’s film is an appropriate update. It might be a fun movie but I don't think that it is fair to describe it as a remake of “Guess who's coming to dinner”. It lacks the depth and the timeliness of the original and, as a consequence, does not do it justice. Perhaps the most interesting thing about "Guess Who" is its inability to convince the audience that interracial marriage is a big deal. That could mean the film lacks imagination, or it could mean that society is growing more tolerant.

The original film was made to educate the coarse, unenlightened masses. The great thing about the original film is that the gorilla is dealt with and addressed and even teaches us a valuable lesson about humanity and race. The new film doesn’t even try.

It's impossible to discuss a movie like “Guess Who” and not mention race. The foundation of the film is, after all, based on a cultural bias that still exists against interracial marriages. The hostility of the '60s and '70s is gone, but an element of suspicion remains. “Guess Who” gets some of its comedic energy from the racial clash.

This movie has the potential to fall into all of the stereotypes we have come to expect from black and white comedies. There is a little of that: Kutcher’s character is goaded into telling black jokes at dinner with Theresa’s family that includes her racially intolerant grandfather and Mac’s character lies about his daughter’s boyfriend to an employee describing him as a black man named Jamal who lives in Atlanta, plays basketball and went to Howard University. However, while poking fun at the problems of inter-racial romance, the movie reminds viewers that discrimination and stereotypes are still alive and well in the new millennium.

Other than borrowing the underlying premise (girl brings home boyfriend of a different race to meet her family), there are few similarities between the films. To start with, the 1967 feature was primarily a message melodrama that doubled as an examination of race relations at the time. Kevin Rodney Sullivan's 2005 movie is an overt comedy that, while not ignoring the race issues altogether, uses them more frequently for humor than to illustrate serious points. Both film’s premises are about the same situation of an interracial marriage.

The remake attempts to turn the concept of the original film on its head by having a black family face the entry of a white boyfriend into their world. The original film approached the subject of race with a deadly seriousness that might have felt appropriate at the time.

The new version simply reverses the positions of the principals, confronting the same subject from the other side of the racial chasm. By comparison, there is a role reversal .In the classic 1967 movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, a white woman brings a black man home to meet her affluent parents. This time around the family is black, and their daughter Theresa brings home her white boyfriend, a New York stockbroker named Simon Green for a weekend visit to New Jersey to celebrate her parent’s renewal of their wedding vows on their 25th anniversary. While her mother and sister express some surprise but ultimately welcome the stranger, her father, Percy Jones, reacts with disbelief, dismay, and ultimately, absolute hostility, from which all the purported comedy flows.

The remake rubs off what few sharp edges there were on the 1967 original film about liberals facing their prejudices when their daughter brings home Sidney Poitier. While the original was heavy on social commentary amid the civil-rights movement, the remake ("Guess Who") plays the interracial-romance angle for slapstick laughs. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was about white America “accepting” black America, but ultimately what was accepted or endorsed was a very narrow vision of black America.

I don’t think that the original movie could have been made as a comedy. The original movie was a product of the civil rights era and was an important social commentary. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was an unabashed assault on attitudes toward interracial marriage; this film was an agent of social change. The film thematizes not merely the moral anxiety over the sexual designs of black males. It posed, dramatically, the social and political question of the place of the black male in the new world order following the dismantling-- officially at least--of segregation and the racial ideology on which it rested.

The original picture, in its polite and earnest way, deals with interracial marriage, certainly a more sensitive and sensational topic back in 1967, when many states denied the vote to African Americans, Jim Crow ruled public life in the South, and racial tensions generated riots in a number of major American cities. Despite its air of liberal piety, the movie explored some relatively new territory for its time, and its good intentions provided at least a little balance to the rhetoric and violence of the decade.

“Guess Who” is a strange movie. When it works, it's a pleasant, undemanding comedy about mismatched individuals finding points of mutual understanding. Themes of racism and the difficulties inherent in interracial relationships are touched upon, but not in any great detail

The story took place almost 40 years ago, but it seems interracial marriage is still difficult in US, especially between Black and white.

I don’t think that the remake could have been made as a serious drama. In its updating of “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” of 1967, the film demonstrates that a comparable Marxist pattern operates in the cinema, changing a relatively serious depiction of an important and relevant subject into a slick and schmaltzy comedy. In the process of that transformation, the picture also suggests some of the cultural and sociological shifts in American society and attitudes over the last few decades.

Moreover, it is a palatable film. It offers a few solid laughs and will provoke some smiles; it’s a fairly typical, unremarkable comedy. While the original film had the breaking of racial stereotypes in mind, this updated version has it more in mind to have fun with them for the sake of the comedy. It is a romantic comedy that touches upon race relations following a fairly well established story-line. I would say that the one redeeming value of the film is the message of "seeing people, not color."



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