"You People" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
"You People", which is a racial comedy film about a white man trying to marry his Black girlfriend, should have worked. Acting as a sort of modern attempt at a film like "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", and co-written by Jonah Hill and Kenya Barris, this movie just sort of goes wrong very quickly, wasting the talents of Hill, Eddie Murphy, and everyone involved in the creation of this film. It's shocking how big of a misfire this movie is as I did have a lot of hope for it.
Hill's character Ezra thinks he is all knowledgeable in Black culture. Hell, him and his friend Mo (Sam Jay) have a podcast together, one where the hosts banter back and forth, where they discuss the culture all around them. Even the podcast is absolutely horrible and cringey to listen to, with every line sounding very scripted and obnoxious even though it is meant to be a real and unscripted show the two are producing. At the same time, he is stuck in his overtly Jewish family, raised by his self-obsessed mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and his oddball father (David Dochovny).
When he mistakes a car for being his Uber from work, he meets Amira (Lauren London), who he almost immediately starts a relationship with. They fall very easily, and then six months later, Ezra is ready to pop the question. He is hellbent on getting her father's (Murphy) permission, but tries to act like he knows what it's like to be a Black man in America. Her father, named Akbar after converting to the Muslim religion, instantly decides he doesn't like Ezra much, and makes it his personal mission to make his life harder on him than need be.
We have seen this before, the father hating the groom and trying everything he can to break up the young couple. But this time, they decide to add the racial tones to it, which should bring up different questions and thought-provoking discussions throughout the film. Yet, it doesn't do any of that, opting to go after the easy joke than to have a meaningful discussion about race in America. This movie doesn't need to go over-the-top with its racial tones, but it at least could address them in a respectful and mature way, not this weird immature crap that Hill wrote into this film.
I think my biggest problem with this movie as a whole is how fake and annoying it is. Nobody would act the same way that these characters do in this film, especially Hill. He is so over-the-top and ridiculous that it makes me wonder why anybody would WANT to be associated with him in any way, shape, or form. Every line he says is so scripted and over-the-top that none of his performance feels genuine, even when he should have delivered a very meaningful dialogue to Murphy's character toward the end of the film.
At the same time, Murphy just doesn't work well in this film. Every other actor in this film makes it feel like they're in a comedy, acting in a sort of playful and fun way. It doesn't have to be a wink at the camera, but they make it known that this movie is easily a comedy and nothing else. Murphy isn't like that. He is deadpan serious the entire film, which makes him lose the charm and spark he has shown his entire career. It seems like he is in a whole other movie, like he received a different script compared to everyone else.
A subplot of this movie revolves around Amira trying to get to know Louis-Dreyfus' Shelley, which she finds to be impossible. Shelley is very self-centered and treats Amira like she is a toy, a new valuable collectible that is different from everyone else in her family. I have two problems with this - at times, she is very unbelievable and the movie seems to shy away from many of the discussions that needs to be have throughout the movie. Sure, they'll hint at how this is racist and needs to be stopped, but then shifts to an easy joke and act like nothing is wrong. That is why when the movie ends, nothing really seems revolved in this department and they just want to wrap it up with a bow and send it on its merry way.
The movie ends with a happy, yet extremely unrealistic ending. It sets up this whole film to show that this relationship will not work out, and then quickly change its mind five minutes before the credits roll and make the viewer believe everything is fine? It's honestly ridiculous, and it's obvious the ending that the characters got will not last. This isn't a racial comedy, nor even an enjoyable comedy. This is a very bad film that tries way too hard and gets no where with what it is trying to do.