In "You People," a new R-rated comedy hitting theaters and Netflix simultaneously, a white man, Ezra (Jonah Hill) and a black woman, Amira (Lauren London), fall in love. All is good, until they are introduced to each of their families.
On one side of the equation, you have Ezra's parents: His overbearing and tone-deaf yet well-meaning Jewish mother, Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and his agreeable father, Arnold (David Duchovny). On the other, you have an over-protective, Muslim father, Akbar (Eddie Murphy), and his agreeable wife, Fatima (Nia Long).
Much like the parents it is depicting, "You People" has good intentions, even if what is outwardly visible seems completely misguided. The script - co-written with Jonah Hill by "Black-ish" creator, Kenya Barris - is an in-your-face, on-the-nose commentary on black-and-white relations, that will leave viewers of all colors a bit squeamish.
The audacity of the film ends up being respected only because "You People" is tremendously funny...if you are a fan of Jonah Hill's brand of sheepish comedy. Murphy manages to be funny even in a role that is way more reserved and controlled than we've ever seen him before. Louis-Dreyfus and Duchovny are perfect as equally annoying parents, her for the way she passively domineers over her son's life, and him for his detachment (they're equally clueless, and perfect for each other). Mike Epps shows up later on and adds to the laughs as Amira's clownish uncle.
The laughs keep this one interesting, but there's a lot left to be desired. While the jokes are pointed, the characters are too, in that they are far from well-rounded. His father and her mother (Long) are poorly underwritten, but at least Duchovny is given some sort of personality. Ezra's sister, and his DJ partner, Mo (Sam Jay) are poorly underwritten and sort of exist only for others to bounce sentences off of, or reveal what the main characters might be thinking.
A laughable - in a bad way - final act of the film is so cheesy, that you can almost surmise that the writers didn't know where to take their story or their characters. After bringing up all of the issues that exist between races in America, it's as if Hill and Barris are saying that the two sides have unsolvable differences, and that common ground can only exist in the movies.
And what was up with the hokey, unnecessary transitions that would pop up throughout the movie?
The ending might have been easier to swallow if it was earned, in any way. Jonah Hill is funny, but his performance is uneven, and there's little chemistry between he and London. But with comedies, sometimes how funny it is makes up for the movie's shortcomings.
So is the case with "You People," a disjointed movie that works as a daring, ambitious comedy...one that isn't afraid to tackle tough issues that we rarely see approached in today's day and age.
Genre: Comedy, Romance.
Run Time: 1 hour 57 minutes.
Starring: Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy, Lauren London, Sam Jay, Nia Long, David Duchovny, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Travis Bennett, Mike Epps, Molly Bennett.
Written by Jonah Hill & Kenya Barris.
Directed by Kenya Barris (feature-film directorial debut).
"You People" is playing theatrically and available on Netflix on Friday, January 27th, 2023.
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