You People has been the talk of the town, as the cast has been on a larger-than-life press tour. Most late-night talk show hosts have been clinging to the idea of an Eddie Murphy revival. The stacked cast is one that stands on its own even without the comedic talents of one of the most storied celebrities of our time. Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Arnold (David Duchovny) are the parents of Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill), who has recently met and fallen in love with Amira (Lauren London), the daughter of Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long). The supporting cast includes Molly Gordon, Rhea Pearlman, Taco, and Sam Jay, among others.
The Humor in You People is Often Clunky and Uncomfortable
The plotline centers on the way people of different racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds look at each other. Everyone has preconceived notions of the way the world is and how it should be. While none of the characters are outright racist, microaggressions that they may never have intended can rear their ugly heads. And this movie created plenty of opportunities to observe this behavior.
Ezra finds himself experiencing a series of unfortunate events stirred on by inherent racism, as does his betrothed. Akbar always imagined his daughter marrying a black man, and his disapproval of Ezra is palpable from the moment they meet at Roscoe’s to discuss the idea of marriage.
The filmmakers made the choice to have Ezra want to impress them so badly that he missteps and comes off as insensitive as well. This begins with his choice of eatery and the fact that he is proposing the idea of marriage during his first meeting with the family.
While Ezra struggles to level with Akbar throughout the movie, Amira has similar issues with the Cohen family. Ezra’s sister takes a romantic liking to her and his father – who has an affinity for Xzibit and wants the world to know about it – chooses to serenade her with John Legend’s “Ordinary People” in an awkward first meeting moment. His mother? Well, she is on a whole other level, leaning into the “diversity” the family is engaging in a little too much.
Admittedly, the Plotline isn’t Entirely Believable
The plotline goes a little bit too far when Shelley and Akbar take it upon themselves to attend the bachelor and bachelorette parties for their in-laws. These scenes actually make the viewer think, “why didn’t their significant others or children put a stop to this?” This is the piece of the movie that came off as too wild, too unhinged. The discomfort felt during these scenes could have easily been portrayed in other, more believable ways. Plenty of moms have made themselves seem off-the-rocker on the hunt for a bridal gown or at a bridal shower, for example.
But that might be the exact point the writers are trying to make. These ideals are antiquated. The atmosphere they create is uncomfortable. And sometimes you have to sit through the discomfort to truly understand the message of a movie. Race struggles are at the forefront of the conversation in America, still. It can be difficult to find humor in it, and it is something we should all be working to fix. This commentary and this perspective are necessary because change doesn’t come unless we get uncomfortable.
Have you gotten a chance to check out You People yet? Maybe you can help me find a new discourse for it… and get it out of its lower-rated category on Rotten Tomatoes.