YOU PEOPLE (2023), a new Netflix rom com starring Jonah Hill and Lauren London, is the latest example of a movie done in by its trailer, which reveals all its best parts.
I watched the trailer for YOU PEOPLE and laughed out loud. I laughed less watching the actual movie, because I had already seen its best bits and there wasn’t more to this one not revealed in the preview. And I know this isn’t the filmmakers’ fault, because they don’t control the trailers, but sadly this is still a thing, and when it happens, it does hurt the movie. In other words, if the trailer is better than the movie, that’s a real problem.
I continue to believe that comedy is the most difficult genre to get right in the movies, because unlike other bad movies, where when they are so bad you can at least laugh at them, a bad comedy, where you are supposed to be laughing, there’s nothing left to do when you’re not laughing.
The other issue with YOU PEOPLE is that as it goes along, it becomes less comedic and more romantic, and so if you are into rom coms, you will like this one more than I did. A bigger issue is the two romantic leads, Jonah Hill and Lauren London, don’t really generate a lot of onscreen chemistry together, and so I wasn’t really buying their romance. Plus, and I’m showing my age here, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and David Duchovny all play parents here, and I found their characters the most interesting and enjoyable in the movie and wished the story had been about them. But it’s not.
YOU PEOPLE, in a variation of GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER? (1967, and tons of remakes over the years), is the story of a young white male Ezra (Jonah Hill) and a young black female Amira (Lauren London) who meet, fall in love, and decide to get married, but they have to deal with their parents first. Ezra’s parents Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Arnold (David Duchovny) are very Jewish, and while they try to be liberal and open-minded, they constantly put their feet in their mouths. Likewise, Amira’s parents Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long) are very Muslim, and the two families are like oil and water. Plus, Akbar pretty much decides to make Ezra’s life a living hell to pry him away from his daughter.
Finally, because their families and cultures are so different, Ezra and Amira decide to call off their wedding, believing that there are just too many differences to overcome. This is the one true and honest moment in the movie, and as sad as this admission is on our modern-day culture and society, had this plot point been allowed to stand, that would have been quite the statement. But YOU PEOPLE isn’t interested in statements. At the end of the day, it’s a rom com, and so Akbar and Shelley decide that they have done wrong by their adult children and decide to make amends and make things right. If you like happy endings, you’ll be satisfied with the direction YOU PEOPLE eventually takes.
YOU PEOPLE was directed by Kenya Barris, who gives this one a rapid fire pace early on, but then things slow down during the movie’s second half. Barris shares screenplay credit with Jonah Hill. This one makes its points early, that trying to have a relationship with someone from a very different culture is difficult, but how things all play out later isn’t very satisfying. The two leads seem to like each other less and less, and so you would think they’d break it off for that reason alone, and the families don’t exactly behave all that realistically, and so the situations which could be comical don’t exactly ring true which gets in the way of the comedy.
The film’s best sequence, again, revealed in the film’s trailer, is the dinner scene where the two families meet for the first time.
Like I said, the two leads, Jonah Hill and Lauren London, don’t share much onscreen chemistry. I never really believed in their romance. Hill rings most true early on, when his character laments about how he just can’t find the right person.
I can watch Eddie Murphy all day, and whenever he was onscreen, I was enjoying this one, even if his character wasn’t all that likable. The same can be said for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Again, I found myself wishing this movie had been about the two of them. David Duchovny is also enjoyable here as Jonah’s father Arnold, but to a lesser degree, since the story focuses more on Louis-Dreyfus’ mom character, Shelley. Nia Long plays Amira’s mom Fatima, and we just saw Long play another mom in the recent thriller MISSING (2023).
Based on the film’s trailer, I had higher hopes for YOU PEOPLE, but ultimately, I didn’t like this one very much. I never believed the two characters played by Jonah Hill and Lauren London were really in love, and the comedy which wasn’t all that strong to begin with gives way to romance as the film moves towards its conclusion.
Veteran actors Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and David Duchovny are the best parts of this one, with Murphy leading the way. The film is at its best whenever Murphy is onscreen. But it’s a supporting role, and he’s not onscreen all that much.
As a result, I give YOU PEOPLE two stars.
Four stars- Excellent
Three stars- Very Good
Two stars- Fair
One star- Poor
Zero Stars- Awful