'You People' review: Commentary-laden culture clash rom-com lacks energy
You People has a promising premise and actors well known for their comedic talents but struggles to squeeze a chuckle or two
Published: 03rd February 2023 10:41 AM | Last Updated: 03rd February 2023 10:41 AM | A+A A-
The film follows a 35-year-old Jewish man who falls in love with a Muslim African-American woman. Couples meeting the parents of their significant other has long been mined for its humourous setting, from sitcoms like Friends to films like Meet the Parents, Why Him? and Father of the Bride but You People recontextualises the tried and tested trope to reflect the complexities of a modern relationship.
A Meet the Parents style romcom, bringing actors from two wildly different schools of comedy like Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy together seems like a good idea on paper. But the film struggles to maintain the expectations it sets with its premise and the opening. With the nostalgia for simple, family-friendly comedies giving us a boost, the opening of the film does seem to work. But the film ultimately falls flat while trying to juggle commentary on cultural differences, relationship drama, and comedy on top of all that.
Although overindulgent in parts, the cultural differences are portrayed with sensitivity while not compromising the integrity of the writing. Some of the commentaries on cultural differences between the black and the Jewish communities might fly over the head for the uninformed. Even with comedy veterans like Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus along with Oscar nominee Jonah Hill in the cast, the film barely manages to deliver a hand full of chuckles.
With its intentions placed firmly on serving awkward situational humour, the film offers vacuous moments filled with awkwardness alone. The film improves significantly during moments when it focuses solely on the lead pairs’ relationship and their character dynamics.
Predominantly known for his quirky, high-on-energy roles in Judd Apatow’s comedies, Jonah Hill nevertheless goes for a stoic and mature performance in this film. Eddie Murphy seems largely indifferent to the happenings around him while Julia Louis-Dreyfus struggles to add anything to the film past her performance as a bumbling, racially tone-deaf mother.
Despite the unusually muted energy levels for a comedy, the film does offer some genuine moments of chemistry between the couple whose relationship the film focuses on. Laura London’s performance as Amira wonderfully compliments her boyfriend, the financier turned Podcaster Ezra played by Jonah Hill. The film raises some interesting questions towards the end involving generational differences, cultural clashes, political affiliations, and how that affects a relationship.
While the film reaches a crescendo, leaving us waiting for the answers, it fizzles out and conveniently wraps up the relationship drama with an ending derived from a formula typical of this genre.
Film: You People
Director: Kenya Barris
Cast: Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lauren London
Rating: 2/5 stars