It’s been many years since Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and Hollywood continues building projects around interracial relationships. Director/writer Kenya Barris alongside co-writer/star Jonah Hill attempt to offer an edgier and funnier take on the topic with their movie You People for Netflix. In this latest exploration, a young couple faces challenges from their families and cultural clashes that threaten their stability. Unfortunately, the film falls short in its attempt to be as progressive as it thinks it is.
Ezra (Hill), a Jewish white man, and Amira (Lauren London), a Muslim black woman, are the couple at the center of You People. Ezra meets Amira one fateful day when he confuses her with his Uber driver (because, you know, all black people look alike). After a cringe-filled back and forth, Amira decides to give Ezra a lift because she needs directions. Ezra offers to help, and the story unfolds. As we progress, You People wants us to believe this is the origin of a true love story.
Inexplicably, Ezra and Amira share a mutual attraction after their initial encounter. The movie does not bother in exploring how Ezra and Amira came to fall for each other but instead simply offers a montage of scenes showing the two doing mundane activities together. When they consummate their relationship, and Ezra declares, “You’re my boo!” Yay. No true connection is established, making the relationship unbelievable. the actors do not share any real on-screen chemistry. Not only did the filmmakers decide to focus on an interracial relationship, but they also decided to include an interfaith relationship as well. Unfortunately, there’s no real work done on this front and seems like it was only included because Barris & Hill think it would be twice as funny. Unfortunately, it is not.
If one’s side has not split from laughter up to that point, You People attempts to crank up the hilarity factor by having the two lovers meet each other’s parents. Ezra’s mother Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) and Amira’s father Akbar (Eddie Murphy) become the focal points. They pose a greater risk of standing in the way of their children’s union, more than any interracial or religious dynamics.
In between senseless scenes, You People does attempt to offer some social commentary but falls flat. The crest of its offenses, however, is this characterization of the parents. Shelley, the white woman, always manages to be offensive and an insensitive moron. She sees her new daughter-in-law as a shiny token but ultimately means no harm. On the other hand, Akbar, the black man, falls into the “angry black man” stereotype, deciding to unapologetically hate Ezra because of the color of his skin and his faith. Perhaps meant to be as a “shoe on the other foot” scenario, this depiction of Akbar comes across as tone-deaf and problematic, which renders any progressive point the movie tries to make moot.
The challenge for viewers will be finding some redeeming qualities to this massive misstep. There are one or two jokes unrelated to race that might elicit a chuckle. It does offer a small glimpse into the pop culture scene in Los Angeles. To the credit fo the main actors involved, they all seem like they would rather not be involved with this disaster. Despite featuring Nia Long, Travis Bennett, David Duchovny, and Molly Gordon, You People does little with their talent. A slew of other famous faces make cameos throughout as well, seemingly as favors to the lead creatives.
You People operates under the guise of being a romantic comedy, but it is neither romantic nor funny. Even worse, it is too tone-deaf and dumb to offer any useful social satire. Somewhere in this concept, there is a good movie, but this is not it. Consequently, You People should be avoided by all people.