February 2nd, 2023
MOVIE: YOU PEOPLE
STARRING: JONAH HILL, EDDIE MURPHY, LAUREN LONDON, JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, NIA LONG, DAVID DUCHOVNY
DIRECTED BY: KENYA BARRIS
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 STAR (Out of 4)
There is often a discussion on if comedy is dead or statements made by your drunk uncle such as, “you couldn’t make Blazing Saddles today”. A response to those hypotheticals could be telling them to watch You People, but what they would discover is a movie that is neither funny nor making the impact it hopes to make. Director Kenya Barris (Black-ish creator) makes his feature film debut with what he hopes would be a new-age Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and instead makes a film so insufferable that it challenges you to not turn it off. It’s an all-star cast and the anticipation of good laughs. Instead, it is a constant cringe fest in an early contender for the worst movie of the year.
It starts with a meet-cute. Ezra (Jonah Hill) accidentally gets into a car that he believes to be his Uber, only it’s Amira (Lauren London), frightened by the intruder to her car, but soon realizes it was all an honest mistake. The two spark up a conversation, he’s a podcaster and she is an art curator. The two undoubtedly hit it off and as their relationship proceeds, Ezra is a Jewish man– not exactly practicing– and Amira is a Black Muslim woman, and what is looming is meeting one another’s parents. Ezra’s parents are Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Arnold (a barely existing David Duchovny). Amira’s parents are Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long). Between the two families and faiths, there are a lot of differences, and as You People proceeds the meeting-of-parents scenarios are extreme levels of cringe. Awkward dinners. Uncomfortable conversations about religion, appropriation, and past choices. It’s not fun for the new couple– nor the viewer.
There is no argument that comedy about race relations can be funny. It’s our differences and stereotypes that often can bring on good laughs and gather opposite groups together. But what Barris and Hill as his co-writer fail to imagine is a world where a conversation isn’t about the painful truths of racism. Each character is written worse than the next and although the improvisational style of dialogue brings an occasional joke to hit, these characters are not real humans. At best they feel developed in a focus group lab and at worst they are just hypothetical impulses on the worst of people. Jokes about Louis Farrakhan feel tone-deaf. Sequences involve Murphy’s character pushing back against Ezra in a downright mean-spirited way. It’s possible that these scenarios would work on a sitcom. Instead, it becomes repetitive and painful.
The lone highlight of You People is Eddie Murphy. The legendary comedian still has a great tone and timing to his comedic acting. Without him, everything else is just bad, with a seldom used Duchovny– delivering lame XZibit jokes– and Louis-Dreyfus is simply given the stereotypical role of the bickering Jewish mother. In between all of the awfulness, there is a plastic tone of direction from Barris, using transitions with art images, and brief snips of music. It’s too slick and stylish, making me think the director was more interested in how much of everything he could fit into his film.
Ultimately You People is a big fat mess. The laughs are rare. It all just exists in a vacuumed world where every single conversation is about the current topic of the day on Twitter. I have way too much respect for the entire cast of this movie for a movie to be this bad. Maybe their hearts were in the right place. Either way, You People is so bad, it’s not even funny.
YOU PEOPLE IS CURRENTLY PLAYING ON NETFLIX.
Written by: Leo Brady