The most mystifying aspect of the 2005 comedy Guess Who is that it is supposedly a remake of the 1967 film Guess Whose Coming to Dinner. The films are so unalike in terms of quality that there is only two similar things between them—they start with the word “guess” and they have an interracial couple as their main backdrop in story. That’s it. There’s really no reason at all to call Guess Who a remake.
Instead of a white patriarch in Spencer Tracy, the “new” version of the film has Bernie Mac as the black patriarch who is shocked to discover that his precious daughter is bringing hope a white boyfriend named Simon (played by Ashton Kutcher). Mac rants and raves, puts on a bluster, and attempts to intimidate Simon all he can but in the end the two bond (which should come as no surprise to anyone). I’m a fan of Mac’s but even he grows tiresome by the end of the film.
By Guess Who marketing itself up as a remake of a classic film all it’s doing is setting itself up for nitpicking and failure. Guess what Guess Who—I’m going to nitpick and point out its failures now.
Sidney Poitier plays the young man coming to dinner with a white girlfriend in the original. Let’s see, Poitier Vs. Kutcher? That’s a tough one. I’ll just say that one of those two is a great actor and the other is suited to pull pranks on dimwitted celebrities. Plainly put, Kutcher is horrible. His idea of nuance and depth and comedy is to ham it up like he’s in a cheesy tv movie (which is what most of his films feel like because he’s not talented enough to be a leading man in any kind of film). He's one of these young actors I hope to never see in any movie ever again.
The biggest problem with this is that the original was made in 1967, when racial issues were still a boiling point across the country. The original addressed important issues in both comedic and serious tones. Guess Who plays like a silly teen sex farce most of the time, completely stripped of any kind of message in its story. If you aren’t going to attempt to replicate a classic film’s message—why attempt to remake it at all?
Guess Who is a below average version of the much superior 1967 film. It’s just another example of Hollywood churning out a remake that is useless, unnecessary, lifeless, not funny and uninteresting. Save yourself the time and energy and watch the original Guess Whose Coming to Dinner and you’ll be rewarded far more than this throwaway new version.