Thursday, January 26, 2023

Hits and misses in an interracial romcom

   The humor in You People sometimes is broad enough to encourage a call for a clean up on aisle sitcom. 
    I wish that weren't the case because this comedy about tensions spawned by a looming interracial marriage has a sharp comic cast built around Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, all of whom have their moments.    
    Hill, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Kenya Barris (Blackish), plays Ezra Cohen, a broker who wants to make a living as a podcaster with his partner Mo (Sam Jay). Jay and Hill give the movie a promising opening, bantering freely about hiphop culture. 
   But romcom rumbles loom and along with them typical comedy ploys.
   After concluding that he'll never find true love, Ezra has a meet-cute with Amira Mohammed (Lauren London). The two connect, but the movie takes a Meet-the-Parents turn with emphasis on racial and cultural differences taking charge, too often in obvious ways.
     Louis-Dreyfus plays Ezra's mom as a stereotypical liberal who spills her wokeness like a drunk trying to hold an overfilled glass of wine. She’s inappropriate in her blatant displays of “liberalism
    Murphy portrays Akbar, Amira's Muslim dad. Murphy occasionally succeeds at squeezing a bit of funny out of a stern character and gives the film its strongest presence.
    David Duchovny and Nia Long are largely wasted as respective spouses. 
   How broad can the humor get? At a dinner where the parents meet, Louis-Dreyfus's Shelley sets fire to Akbar's kufi, a treasured cap supposedly given to him by none other than Louis Farrakhan. Attempts to introduce humor about Jews and Blacks are more referenced than explored.
    Ezra's Las Vegas bachelor party (Akbar attends) also lands with a thud and a gratuitous introduction of cocaine use.
    London also could have used some scenes of her own.
    Look, there are laughs to be found here, particularly in the early scenes, but You People shows little interest in ruffling feathers. 
    Before the movie concludes, everyone learns lessons about tolerance, love, and open-mindedness and You People squanders an opportunity to take a more challenging ride across comedy’s cutting edge.


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