Directed by ABC’s “black-ish” creator Kenya Barris and co-written by comedy royalty Jonah Hill, “You People” is the modern-day, L.A.-centric twist on the classic 60’s rom-com, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
Hill stars as Ezra Cohen, a Jewish man whose current gig lies in the financial world, but his true passion is his pop-culture podcast, “The Mo and E-Z Show,” which he hosts with his best friend. As he gets up there in age, his journey to find love remains stagnant with zero prospects until he accidentally finds his dream match after booking an Uber and hopping into the wrong vehicle owned by a Black Muslim woman, Amira Mohammed (Lauren London).
Amira is a modest, young costume designer who seems to be way out of Ezra’s league, but surprisingly the two hit it off, bonding over hip-hop culture and fashion. Within six months, the wedding bells are ringing.
However, their different races and cultures clash, and they encounter the ultimate relationship test: meeting the parents. First comes love, then comes family to ruin it. What results is a series of comedic yet eye-opening occurrences.
The focal point of this film is the unfortunate racism, unconscious bias and stereotypes that overpower this world, but it’s an interesting way to stir up tough conversations. Although Amira is a fictional character, she is the exact representation of millions of Black women who are plagued by insensitive and derogatory treatment. This is evident even when she and Ezra first encounter each other as he mistakes her for his Uber driver because they “look alike.”
Let’s get this straight — just because one may have the same skin color as another, doesn’t mean they look alike. In other words, not all Black people look alike, and skin color doesn’t define one’s personality.
Adding fuel to fire of course are the parentals. When Amira first meets Ezra’s mom Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and dad Arnold (David Duchovny), comments about her hair, police brutality, kneeling for the National Anthem and “finally being a family of color” start flying across the room as if it’s the typical conversation they should be having.
But don’t get it twisted because Ezra is also put through the wringer trying to win over Amira’s parents, Fatima (Nia Long) and Akbar (Eddie Murphy). Akbar especially doesn’t think Ezra is worthy of courting his daughter, but he takes him to a basketball court to spend “quality time” together. It was truly giving “White Men Can’t Jump,” but he put on a show and in a way shut Akbar up, showing that in fact, white men can jump.
Despite the discomfort some viewers may feel, it’s delivered and executed in a comedic fashion, giving the film some sort of ease.
After about an hour, the film starts to fizzle out, repeating the same type of scenes, and though the jokes land, there are a couple of things that kill the comedy.
The film lacks consistency, making it hard for viewers to literally keep their eyes open. There are a bunch of lapses in time that make it difficult to follow, and in a way, it may contribute to the lack of chemistry between this on-screen pairing. This film is all about the soul connection between two individuals, but as viewers, we don’t get to really see how their love blossoms. Instead, it’s just a few clips accompanied by music leaving viewers to make assumptions.
These flaws are somewhat fixed by some special appearances and heartfelt tributes. Some notable cameos are made by La La Anthony, Yung Miami, Mike Epps, Anthony Anderson, Deon Cole and Bryan Greenberg. London also made it a huge point to honor her late partner, rapper Nipsey Hussle, by incorporating a couple of landmarks and street signs such as Slauson Avenue, where his clothing store is based. Hussle’s infamous saying, “The marathon continues” (TMC), and soundtracks were also featured throughout, which certainly brought both tears and delight to viewers.
“You People” may have not lived up to certain audience expectations, but it’s still a solid take on 21st-century interracial couples and a refreshing rom-com the world needed.