Posted on January 26, 2023 at 5:33 pmB +
|Lowest Recommended Age:
|Mature High Schooler
|Rated R for language throughout, some sexual material and drug content.
|Very strong and crude language
|Drinking and drugs including cocaine
|Comic peril, no one hurt
|A theme of the movie
|Date Released to Theaters:
|January 27, 2023
Amira, a Muslim Black stylist and costume designer (Lauren London) and Ezra, a Jewish white guy with a boring job in finance who would rather be a podcaster (Jonah Hill) fall in love in “You People,” a comic contest between two equally offensive sets of parents. Her parents (Nia Long and Eddie Murphy as Fatima and Akbar) disapprove and try to undermine the relationship. His parents (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and David Duchovny ask Shelly and Arnold) are clueless about the cringe-inducing, reductionist racism of their attempts to welcome Amira. Falling somewhere down the spectrum from the tragedy of “Romeo and Juliet” and the sincere if stilted drama of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” this film, co-written by star Hill and director Kenya Barrios (“Black-ish”) plays it for comedy, with an exceptionally strong supporting cast. And it is not afraid to include some stinging commentary amid the romance and the laughs.
It gets off to a strong start with Ezra and his podcast co-host Mo (Sam Jay) laughing about their fantasy versions of Barack Obama, clearly improvised. The jokes are more outrageous than funny, but it is a delight to hear the two riff off of each other with witty affection. We then see Ezra at Yom Kippur services with his parents, who gently disapprove of what he is wearing (casual kicks) and not wearing (a kipper head covering). The meet-cute is when he gets into what he thinks is his Uber, but what turns out to be Amira, who has gotten lost. After a moment of panic, they hit it off and soon they are dating. They share the same shoe game and commitment to supporting one another. And they just enjoy spending time together. And then it becomes time to to meet the parents.
The surprise in the film is Eddie Murphy, who plays it absolutely straight as Amira’s dignified father and makes Akbar into one of the movie’s highlights. There’s no winking at the audience, no wild exaggeration, and the more serious he is, the funnier he is, especially when one of his ploys backfires. He leaves the goofiness in the more than capable hands of Mike Epps (as Akbar’s brother), “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson, the always terrific Sam Jay, and more. Murphy, the real-life father of 10 children, knows all too well what it is to measure a suitor against his expectations, and this is one of his best roles.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a lot of fun with the role of Ezra’s mother, who tries so hard to show she is an ally that she over-corrects, while her husband tries to show how hip he is by talking about how much he likes rapper Xzibit. Instead of getting to know Amira by, for example, asking her about her work, she chatters about looking forward to brown grandchildren and goes woke Karen on a spa attendant she mistakenly thinks was racist. The white side of the cast also has an exceptionally strong group in supporting and cameo roles, from legends Hal Linden, Richard Benjamin, Rhea Perlman, and Elliott Gould to younger familiar faces Rob Huebel and Bryan Greenburg. Look for Romy Reiner (daughter of Rob, granddaughter of Carl) on a date with Ezra, director Barris as an airplane passenger, and a sign advertising London’s late activist/rapper romantic partner, Nipsey Hustle, who also has a song on the soundtrack.
The script is uneven at times. The bachelor party in Las Vegas and bachelorette party at a spa do not work as well as the sections at home. But as the characters discover, good will and a sharp sense of humor can overcome a lot of obstacles.
Parents should know that this film includes very strong and crude language, sexual references and non-explicit situations, drinking and drugs, and a visit to a strip club in Las Vegas.
Family discussion: How would your family react to a new boyfriend or girlfriend? How would you have handled the meeting of the parents? What made them change their minds?
If you like this, try: “This Christmas” with Lauren London and “Superbad” with Jonah Hill