Directed by: Kenya Barris
Distributed by: Netflix
Written by Alexander Reams
The booming voice of Jonah Hill is one that might not be suited for podcasting, the evidence of which can be seen throughout “You People,” that podcast acts as pseudo internal dialogue for Hill. There are moments in “You People” that burst with comedic talent, the duo of Jonah Hill as Ezra and Sam Jay as Mo is lovely to watch as the two have fantastic banter. This opens and closes the film thematically, and is a nice bow on the arcs that Barris establishes. The co-lead to Hill’s Ezra is Amira, a fashion designer with a very traditionalist family, led by Eddie Murphy’s Akbar. Their relationship does manage to carry the film because of their chemistry, their best scene is the first date, it’s just the right amount of awkwardness without going overboard.
The shlock enters when Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Duchovny are on screen, as Ezra’s parents Shelley and Arnold, and act in a way that is a version of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” turned up to 10, cingrey, weird, and uncomfortable. There is a level of self-awareness that is required when dealing with these tensions in a satirical manner but each character is tone-deaf to what the other performers are doing. Louis-Dreyfus and Duchovny are broken down into caricatures of how white people would react, how parents would respond, or how a father would react, instead of fleshing out why these people are the way they are. Barris is not saying anything new with “You People,” it’s a rehash of traditional romcom tropes, a father doesn’t like the fiance, in-laws bickering, a fake breakup before a wedding, it’s all here.
Unfortunately, not much of it is done well. The tone-deaf nature of the characters extends to the direction, Barris makes no original choices in his framing, blocking, or lighting, it’s visually unappealing. The colors pop throughout because of an obvious filter done in post-production which only takes you out of the film instead of bringing you in. Hill is acceptable as a lead, but he’s mostly relegated to tormenting from Eddie Murphy, who ruins his bachelor party and generally demeans him whenever the opportunity presents itself, which is entertaining enough while you’re watching, but as soon as the credits roll, you forget about him, and the whole film.
“You People” Trailer