The predictable Peeples stays blandly inoffensive

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Starring Craig Robinson and Kerry Washington. Rated PG.

The Peeples are an upper-crust African-American family who vacation at a luxurious beach house in the Hamptons. How upper-crust? Let’s just say they make the cast of the old Cosby Show look like underachievers. The patriarch (David Alan Grier) is a controlling judge who dotes on his youngest daughter, Grace (Kerry Washington). Family life is turned upside down when Grace’s live-in boyfriend, Wade (Craig Robinson), decides to upset their comfortable routine.

Wade is a portly children’s entertainer whose latest song is a cautionary tale about peeing in your pants (“Speak it [Don’t Leak it!]” ). Grace is a successful lawyer who’s afraid that her boyfriend won’t measure up to her father’s impossibly high standards. A frustrated Wade—who refers to her family as “the chocolate Kennedys”—is desperate to propose marriage. So when Grace keeps putting off an introduction, he crashes the yearly reunion.

He discovers that his girlfriend’s family is being less than honest with each other. Daddy is a closet nudist. Mom (S. Epatha Merkerson) is concealing a taste for magic mushrooms. Grace’s gay sister (Kali Hawk) refuses to come out to the family. And their little brother (Tyler James Williams) steals things.

Produced by Tyler Perry, what ultimately emerges manages to be both predictable and blandly inoffensive. Along with the veteran cast, writer-director Tina Gordon Chism works hard to set us up for laughs, but it feels as if someone took three episodes of a second-rate sitcom and stitched them together to try and make a workable movie.

The plot chugs along at a tepid pace, prompting a half-smile now and then. Things get increasingly frantic, but this just adds a sense of genuine strain to the proceedings. Beyond forgettable, Peeples is one of those movies that seems content to automatically erase itself as you watch. By the time you’re done, it’s like you haven’t seen anything at all.

Watch the trailer for Peeples.
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