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Review: You People (Netflix)

January 28, 2023

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy star as a Jewish man and his future father-in-law in You People, a new Netflix romantic comedy from director Kenya Barris.

Co-written by Barris and Hill, the film is first and foremost a cringe comedy about the racial divide in current America that plays like a modern riff on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner crossed with Meet the Parents. And it is genuinely pretty funny at times, despite being a somewhat uneven effort overall.

The film primarily sets itself up as a love story between Ezra (Hill), a white Jewish dude in Los Angeles who listens to rap music and co-hosts a podcast about “the culture” with his bestie Mo (Sam Jay), and Amira (Lauren London), a Black costume designer.

The two have a “meet cute” moment when he mistakes her for his Uber driver and accidentally gets in the back of her car, and a relationship blossoms between them. But there are Ezra’s parents Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Arnold (David Duchovny) to contend with, as well as Amira’s parents Akbar (Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long). Shelley is the sort of well-meaning, wannabe progressive white lady who doesn’t realize how her attempts at racial sensitivity can come off as condescending, while Akbar plays up his devout Muslim faith and makes no secret of his disdain towards his daughter marrying a non-Black man.

In short, You People is about a Jewish family and a Muslim family who are about to become in-laws, and we can see exactly where Hill and Barris are going with this, one awkward encounter after another. If the film feels like it is trading in broad racial humour at times, many of the jokes also admittedly land, and it is at its best when allowing the talented cast to simply start riffing off each other. The truth is, these are some very funny people, so even if all of the material doesn’t quite stick, they still get a lot of good mileage out of it, especially in exchanges between Murphy, Hill and Louis-Dreyfus.

Their performances in particular help elevate the film. Murphy is more of a subdued presence here than he has been in past roles, but still gets off a string of sharp one-liners and steely, disapproving reaction shots. Hill reminds us how good he can be as a comedic lead and has a couple of speeches that are nicely delivered, while Louis-Dreyfus plays sincere but clueless very well.

It’s still an uneven film, and it can be easy to wish that the strongest material here was in service of a better overall movie. The film doesn’t really go as deep as it might try to in terms of its mostly surface-level social commentary, and the story still has to work within the constraints of the rom-com formula, including a rushed ending that feels somewhat forced. The chemistry between Hill’s Ezra and London’s Amira – two characters who don’t actually have a ton in common – is also not as strong as it needs to be for the movie to fully connect as a romance.

It’s clearly not the best movie, or even necessarily the sharpest handling of this premise. But Barris and Hill keep the film popping at close to two hours despite a few rough patches, and the joke-to-laugh ratio is still decent enough to make You People an easily watchable and fairly enjoyable Netflix comedy.

You People is now available to stream exclusively on Netflix.

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