Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
You People

Title: You People

Describe This Movie Using One Lethal Weapon 2 Quote:
CONSULATE ENVOY: I don't think you want to go to South Africa.
ROGER MURTAUGH: Why not?
CONSULATE ENVOY: Because you're black!
LEO GETZ: You are. He is.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Guess who's coming to seder?

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 2.5 Ross Perots out of 5
Tagline: "Opposites attract, families don't."

Better Tagline: "So *that's* what Paula Abdul was singing about."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill) is a finance broker, but dreams of success as a podcaster with his best friend Mo (Sam Jay). His parents (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Duchovny) are more worried their 35-year old son won't ever meet the right woman. Costume designer Amira Mohammed (Lauren London) isn't who they had in mind, but that's okay, because Ezra's not who Amira's parents (Eddie Murphy and Nia Long) had in mind for their daughter either.
"Critical" Analysis: "You're a Jew from west L.A., what do you know about culture?"

This question, posed to Ezra by a date set up by his mom Shelley, is a fair one: where does he get off opining about hip hop, sneakers, and his love of Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles on his "culture" podcast, "black best friend" or not?

It also unintentionally sets up what a good choice Jonah Hill was for this role. Just about any white dude in Wu-Tang or Cypress Hill T-shirts is going to draw some derision, but we're so used to Hill playing unlikable characters that it's a pleasant surprise when he turns out to be a decent guy.

Is his chemistry with Amira believable? Kinda? Their meet cute isn't as insufferable as others we've been subjected to, and while the movie's needle stays faithfully in the groove of the genre, first-time feature director Kenya Barris navigates the shifts from 1) burgeoning relationship to 2) family get-together to 3) will they or won't they? to 4) reconciliation well enough.

Things don't get really spicy until the second act, which takes place six months into the relationship, when they finally meet the parents (not to be confused with Meet the Parents). Barris has put together a stout cast, and Duchovny (as Ezra's dingbat dad Arnold) and Long (as Amira' imperious mother Fatima) handle themselves well.
click to enlarge
"Now see, white people, they drive like *this*."
But it's JLD and Murphy who do the heavy lifting as You People's antagonists. Louis-Dreyfus is disappointingly understated, but mostly comes through as an unintentionally (?) offensive dipshit. Murphy is more of a direct asshole, but benefits from the inclusion of Omar Epps as his brother, who reminds him of his own past missteps.

Murphy plays it straighter here as he has since 2016's Mr. Church, which nobody saw, so you'd probably have to go back to when he was the Pharaoh in the "Remember the Time" video.

Sadly, Amira isn't as well-drawn as her male counterparts, and her interactions with JLD aren't as pointed as those between Hill and Murphy. Co-writers Barris and Murphy also tend to fall into didacticism at the expense of actual comedy. Indeed, many of the issues here were brought up in Black-ish, and that show's Anthony Anderson and Deon Cole even make an appearance.

There are certainly some good bits: the Louis Farrakhan dinner exchange, Arnold's obsession with Xzibit, "Jews were the OG slaves," the idea of a "hood Tron" wedding, and Ezra and Mo's unfavorable comparison of his love life to Drake albums.

So ignore the fact that the Cohens are basically the Armitages from Get Out (without the hypno-body swap-murder stuff) and that there's a lot of already covered ground here. Hill and London are winning enough, while JLD and (especially) Murphy are a treat to watch.

And while I'm not the Cinema Sins type, I must point out that Southwest Airlines does not have reserve seats.

You People is in theaters and streaming on Netflix today.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar