Follows a new couple and their families, who find themselves examining modern love and family dynamics amidst clashing cultures, societal expectations and generational differences.
Many would say, “If Eddie Murphy is a part of the film, sign me up!” Then you’d remember how the sequel to Coming To America (1988), Coming 2 America (2021), turned out and you might change your mind. Describing that film as a disappointing letdown is being nice. So when the trailer first landed for his next film, You People, you wouldn’t be crucified if you weren’t that excited. However, I still was, because it’s Eddie Murphy and he definitely has more wins than losses. In addition to that, he’s not the only star in this star-studded cast that’s gracing us with their presence, with talent ranging from Jonah Hill and Nia Long to Julia Louis-Dreyfus to name a few. They all came together in a wonderful romantic comedy that did its job quite well.
Everyone loves a great love story, and this one hit home in all the right places. That wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Johah Hill, who plays Ezra. This man is funny simply put, and the character he’s playing feels like his real-life self. Ezra is the type of man that says out loud what everyone is thinking. He is the type of character that will finish your sentences in an awkward moment to relieve the tension in the room. He’s also a bit socially awkward not knowing how to reply to a normal greeting in any setting. It’s nothing short of hilarious and Hill’s comedic timing is perfect for this role. He’s paired with Lauren London as Amira, and she’s absolutely gorgeous and increases her acting skills each time she’s on the big or small screen. Ezra and Amira’s initial meet-up in the film did come across as a stretch, but once the montage of their dating life kicked off it felt cute, genuine, and true. Ezra comes off as a man that knows his potential but will still swing for the fences if the opportunity arises. It’s like he’s thinking, “I’ll try my best,” which will always be respected.
When Akbar (Eddie Murphy) finally hits the screen his delivery did come off a little weird initially. It was difficult to believe the pro-Black hard exterior that he was trying to convey (even though the concept of being pro-Black is silly). You see, Ezra is in love with Amira (Akbar’s daughter) and he wants to gain the approval of the family. The trick is both sides of the family are from two completely different cultures where ideals are sure to clash. With this being somewhat of a remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) in a more modernsetting, deep hardened laughs are sure to come and they do. So when Ezra and Akbar finally meet and are bouncing off of each other at the dinner table it was the type of comedic brilliance that should be in entertainment even more. Their characters addressed every perceived notion, existence, assumption, and stereotype that has been thrown around for years in the Black and/or Jewish communities. Some good, some bad, and all that’s in between were addressed actually by not only those two but the entire family bringing in Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Fatima (Nia Long), and Arnold (David Duchovny).
In reality, there are endless layers of history between Blacks and Jews, and this film makes fun of it in the best way. I thought this was handled perfectly by director Kenya Barris with this also being his directorial debut. He knew exactly how to mesh the two worlds together in an unapologetic way to again address what many people are thinking, but are afraid to say. The film also took a deep dive into each culture on what’s important and how stereotypes and other assumptions about groups of people can come across as being extremely disrespectful when the intentions were the greatest. It’s always possible for someone to try to be the nice understanding person that is open to everything, but always approaching the situation the wrong way and that’s apparent during this film. Especially with the character of Shelley (Dreyfus). She was the textbook example of cringe in the most realistic way, while also being entertaining and fun.
From a creative standpoint, Barris did get a little carried away with the editing when he was transitioning between scenes. It’s like he found a new editing tool and was eager to see how it works and may have gone overboard with all the cuts, music, and bright vivid colors. It didn’t ruin the film, but it did stand out and could’ve been toned down just a bit. There are also a number of cameos that pop up in the film from the Jewish community, who have also addressed some of these cultural norms and differences in their own platforms of entertainment, which are a highlight as well. It was an overall great mix of everything you’d want to see.
I’m happy for director Kenya Barris as I feel he pulled this project off with flying colors. That’s great seeing that one of his last projects, #BlackAF, was an abysmal mess, this one may stand out for a lot longer than that creation. In today’s society communication and understanding are important. And while that can be difficult for some people it’s necessary and can make life much easier for us all if we make that attempt, and this film did a splendid job of pointing that out without it being too forceful or non-organic.